Ask the Aesthetician 

A Skincare Blog by  Jennifer Priest

All About The Cleanser

March 10, 2019

Shopping for a skin care product can be overwhelming. I’ve been in the industry for 15 years and I can even get overwhelmed when looking for a new product. So, let’s start with the basics. What is most important to you?

• Maintaining the quality of the skin you have now

• Looking to improve and target things like fine lines, sun damage, acne, redness….

• Price

• Type of product; medical grade, spa grade, drugstore, natural, cruelty free

I recommend to all my clients: Cleanser, Toner, Eye Cream, Moisturizer and SPF. These are the must haves. We can always add extra products to target your concerns, but for now, let’s talk about cleansers.


Please don’t just grab whatever is in the bathroom; bar soap, body wash, shampoo or hand soap. These are way too harsh for your beautiful face. That squeaky-clean feeling you get is your acid mantle being damaged. The acid mantle is a thin slightly acidic layer that protects us from bacteria, viruses and other environmental contaminates. Think of it as your personal ozone layer keeping everything nice and the way it was meant to be and the soap is a huge can of 80’s Aqua Net hairspray. At first you may not see a big difference, but over time if we are constantly stripping this away our skin will be prone to redness, irritation, dryness and possible breakouts. Maybe you are one of those who has been using soap for years and thinks you look just fine, maybe you do. But can you imagine how much better your skin could be if you just switched to a facial cleanser? Give it a shot, you can thank me later.


The first decision you need to make; what are my concerns? In general, if you have dry to normal or sensitive skin, I would choose a creamy cleanser. If you have oily to combination I would go with a gel or foaming cleanser. Now cleansing is one of those products that does not stay on the skin. It’s washed away after each use, so this I feel, is the one product you can get away with spending less money. Now if you are looking for a treatment cleanser, that will be a little more expensive, and I promise you, it is worth it! Here are some ingredients to look for if you have the following concerns:

Acne/Oily/Congested

• Salicylic Acid: A beta hydroxy acid derived from willow bark that is oil soluble (penetrates pores) reduces inflammation and kills acne causing bacteria *Not for those who have an allergy to aspirin

• Kaolin: A detoxifying clay, exfoliating and anti-inflammatory

• Tea Tree: Natural antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, soothing and anti-inflammatory

• Glycolic Acid: An alpha hydroxy acid derived from sugar cane that exfoliates by breaking down sebum (glue like substance) in pores for faster cell turnover, helps lighten acne scaring

• Kojic Acid derived from fungi helps to lighten hyperpigmentation and scars.

• Niacinamide: Anti-inflammatory, redness reducing, hydrating, heals and prevents pustules

Aging/Dull/Fine Lines/Wrinkles

• Glycolic Acid: A alpha hydroxy acid derived from sugar cane that exfoliates by breaking down sebum (glue like substance) faster cell turnover and revealing fresh new skin, helps lighten acne scaring

• Lactic Acid: An alpha hydroxy acid derived from milk, that lightens, exfoliates and increases moisture levels in the skin

• Oils like Jojoba and Safflower: conditioning and moisturizing

• L-sodium Hyaluronate aka Hyaluronic Acid: This molecule holds up to 1000 times its weight in water. It hydrates, firms and plumps the skin, promotes better circulation, wound healing and nutrient absorption.

• Mandelic Acid: An alpha hydroxy acid derived from bitter almonds helps to aid in the reduction of fine lines and pigmentation and is one of the gentler forms of the AHA family.

• Niacinamide: Anti-inflammatory, redness reducing, hydrating, heals and prevents pustules, antioxidant (cell protector) which softens the texture of the skin

Dry

• Lactic Acid: An alpha hydroxy acid derived from milk, that lightens, exfoliates and increases moisture levels in the skin

• L-sodium Hyaluronate aka Hyaluronic Acid: This molecule holds up to 1000 times it’s weight in water. It hydrates, firms and plumps the skin, promotes better circulation, wound healing and nutrient absorption.

• Oils like Jojoba and Safflower: conditioning and moisturizing

Hyperpigmentation/Sun Damaged

• Glycolic Acid: A alpha hydroxy acid derived from sugar cane that exfoliates by breaking down sebum (glue like substance) faster cell turnover and revealing fresh new skin, helps lighten acne scaring

• Lactic Acid: An alpha hydroxy acid derived from milk, that lightens, exfoliates and increases moisture levels in the skin

• Kojic Acid derived from fungi helps to lighten hyperpigmentation and scars.

• Mandelic Acid: An alpha hydroxy acid derived from bitter almonds helps to aid in the reduction of fine lines and pigmentation and is one of the gentler forms of the AHA family.

Sensitive/Rosacea

• Green Tea Extract: Reduces inflammation, calming

• Aloe: Sooths inflamed, irritated skin while promoting hydration

• Niacinamide: Anti-inflammatory, redness reducing, hydrating, heals and prevents pustules

These are just a few of the amazing ingredients I look for when treating these concerns in the treatment room. Make an appointment with me and bring in your products so we can discuss what to keep, give to your niece or throw away. Stop wasting your money on products that don’t target your skin care concerns. 

Keratosis Pilaris

April 1, 2019

What are these bumps on the back of my arms? I hear this question many times in the treatment room. These bumpy rough patches tend to show up on the back of the arms and cheeks, but can be located on many other parts of the body.


Keratosis pilaris (ker-uh-TOE-sis pih-LAIR-is) is a common, harmless skin condition that causes dry, rough patches and tiny bumps, usually on the upper arms, thighs, cheeks or buttocks. The bumps generally don't hurt or itch. Keratosis pilaris is often considered a variant of normal skin. (Mayo Clinic)


While you may be happy to hear it is normal and harmless, this still leaves the question on how do I treat it? First, let’s get a good understanding of what this is and how it shows up on the skin. Keratosis Pilaris is a result of a build up of keratin in the skin. Keratin is a good thing. We need keratin to protect the skin from infection and harmful environmental substances. The problem arises when there is too much keratin blocking hair follicles and if your skin tends to be on the dry side, it can make the issue even worse.


To ease dry skin, we need to make sure we drink plenty of water each day and if you are drinking lots of caffeine, you are going to need to double up on your water intake. Taking hot showers will also increase dry skin. Chlorine from pools and hot tubs can strip your skin of lubricants (sebum) that your body naturally produces. This can lead to dry, itchy skin. I suggest lowering the temperature of your shower and time you spend in the shower. If you are swimming in a pool, rinse the chlorine off with fresh water as soon as you exit the pool.


There are some great products and home care to address Keratosis Pilaris;


Exfoliate: You can use exfoliating gloves and brushes in the shower. We don’t want to scrub to aggressively. Gently going over the area is sufficient. Remember to disinfect your exfoliation tools by either putting them in the washing machine or for brushes, setting them out in the sun to dry and spraying them with a disinfectant. Leaving body puffs, washcloths and exfoliating gloves in the shower without washing them is a breeding ground for bacteria and we don’t want to put that on our skin.


Treat: Salicylic, Glycolic and Lactic are amazing chemical exfoliations and can be used with body brushes and exfoliating gloves. They come in body wash and in lotion or oil form which is left of the body. Salicylic acid kills bacteria, is anti-inflammatory, found naturally in strawberries and derived from willow bark. If you have an allergy to aspirin, I would consult your doctor before using. Glycolic acid is made from sugar cane, breaks down sebum and is able to reduce dead skin cell build up so that pores are clear. Lactic acid is mostly made from beets, but can come from animal sources. This is a great exfoliant for dry skin because as it exfoliates it also hydrates.


Some of my favorite products that you can find at Jennifer Priest Aesthetics are; Skin Script Raspberry Refining Cleanser with Salicylic, Glycolic and Tea Tree oil, Skin Script Clarifying Toner Pads. The Raspberry Refining Cleanser is great to use in the shower. The Clarifying Toner pads can be used after drying off. Mosituizers Vitamin A,C & E oil can be applied to the area as well.. Vitamins A and C also work as gentle exfoliants that assist in hyperpigmentation and are stellar anti-aging ingredients. Vitamin E is healing, anti-inflammatory and moisturizing. 


Please always check with your doctor first to make sure you are on the right track and that it is indeed Keratosis Pilaris before starting any treatment.


 



 

All About the Collagen! Affordable Anti-Aging Spa Treatments

April 1, 2019

If you are reading this blog, I’m guessing you have spent days in the sun covered in baby oil, used a tanning bed and have been less than dedicated in applying SPF in the past. In the 80’s, I remember tanning salons popping up all over my small North Carolina hometown. At 13 years old, my mother took me to Shirley’s Hair and Tanning Salon and bought me a month of unlimited tanning sessions in preparation for our winter cruise to the Bahamas. I remember stepping into the dimly lit closet-like room with the space age coffin, looking in the full-length mirror while applying the red heart sticker to my hip, like Shirley had suggested, before gently lying on the cold glass of the bed. I was terrified I was either going to get electrocuted or go blind from looking at the bulbs. I had been warned under no circumstances should I take off my goggles, but I couldn’t see the start button while wearing them. It was clear the manufacturer had not thought this part through. I put my finger on the start button, put on my goggles and pressed the button. The bright light and a loud but comforting fan came on and after 3 minutes of panic, I eventually calmed down and drifted off to sleep. When I awoke and peeled the sticker off, I could see a little tan beginning with no sunburn. I was hooked! For the next 10 years I enjoyed tanned skin all year long.


When the studies on UV rays become more mainstream and made its way to my number one news source in my 20’s, Cosmopolitan Magazine, I began to realize this wasn’t as healthy as it had been marketed. I felt betrayed and went on a quest to try to undo all the damage I had done. I immediately stopped lying in the sun. I tried some skincare products, but felt lost when I ventured into mall and stepped up to the beauty counters. Everything was marketed as a miracle but did little more than leave my purse a lot lighter. A few years later when some of the damage actually started to show up, I decided to leave my career as a victim advocate with Crime Control and Public Safety and went back to school, mostly for selfish reasons, to study skin care. A year later, I graduated in the top of my class and became an Aesthetician working for a medical spa in Raleigh, NC.

In the early 2000s, I treated my sun damaged clients with series of aggressive crystal microdermabrasion facials and chemical peels that often left them red and scaly for days. The results were good, though these treatments were not for everyone. My clients with sensitive skin, rosacea and acne were often unable to have these procedures due to contraindications.


A few years ago, I went to a training on LED Light Therapy. It honestly sounded too good to be true. How could shining a light on my client’s skin help anything? Being in the skincare industry for most of my adult life, I had seen many things that were touted as the next best thing to just be full of hype and deserved a spot in the trash rather than my practice. I was going to need a little convincing.


I learned that LED Light Therapy was developed by NASA to assist in growing plants in space, apparently that’s not an easy thing to do up there. It also helped astronauts heal their wounds at a faster rate, burns were healed in record time and it was able to treat hard to heal diabetic wounds and ulcers.


Eventually, the skincare industry heard about this miracle light and began to test it out in doctor’s offices after deep chemical peels. The results were incredible, clients required less time to recover and saw a difference in fine lines and discoloration.


Much like the sun’s rays, LED light is able to penetrate the skin at different wave lengths to stimulate collagen production and elastin, kill acne causing bacteria, heal wounds, improve mood, help with sleep, tighten skin, ease rosacea, reduce hyperpigmentation (sun spots, melasma) and also stimulates hair growth. The results are a brighter complexion with fewer wrinkles, fine lines, less redness, more balance and fewer breakouts. Once we hit the ripe old age of 25 years old, our collagen starts to decline. LED Light Therapy communicates with our fibroblast cells. Fibroblasts are needed to create collagen. These cells are increased when LED Light Therapy is used which results in collagen formation that repairs and reduces fine lines and wrinkles.


I have seen results on my clients of all ages and myself. On top of the horrible things I did to my skin; lying in a tanning bed and not using SPF until I was in my 20’s, I also developed hormonal acne in my 40’s. LED Light Therapy has helped with both of these skin conditions. I use LED Light Therapy in my treatment room several times a day on almost all my clients; from blue LED light to treat my teen acne clients, to red LED light to help clients in their 80’s looking to stimulate collagen and reduce sun damage.


I love pairing this treatment with Microneedling and the Needle Free Facial Filler (PLLA/Poly-L-Lactic). Microneedling and the PLLA Needle Free Filler Facial stimulate the production of collagen. Microneedling does this by creating tiny channels in the skin that stimulate collagen and increase product penetration. With Microneedling, we are in a sense tricking our skin into thinking it’s damaged and signals are given to create more collagen to repair itself.


PLLA actually began as an injectable for the hollows of the skin for patients who had wasting syndrome. Much like LED Light Therapy, PLLA also eventually made its way into the beauty industry. I use it in serum form with a sheet of encapsulating hydrogen that drives the serum into the skin, PLLA boosts the regeneration of the skin’s own collagen to provide a gradual increase of skin thickness and smoother skin for a more youthful appearance. It gradually replaces lost collagen to reduce the appearance of laugh lines, neck lines and helps replenish and enhance facial volume that is lost to aging. Collagen slowly builds up around absorbed PLLA to provide overall skin firming and plumping. Both the Microneedling and PLLA Needle Free Facial Filler are great on their own, but pairing them with LED gives my clients outstanding results and reduces Microneedling downtime.


LED Light Therapy is best used in a series, you will get optimal results using it 3 times a week for a month and then 1 – 2 times per week. Sessions are 15 – 20 minutes. You can’t overdose on LED Light Therapy, so you can use it as often as you like. Each session is $20 and a series of 4 is $70

Not all LED lights are created equal. You won’t be able to sit next to your Christmas tree and get younger looking skin, not yet anyway. While we are waiting on that technology, you can book your appointment and free consult with me to see how I can help you take a few years off your skin too.