Anu-Skin Blog

  • The Anatomy of a Wrinkle

    Character lines are just nice way of describing wrinkles, and most of us would prefer a less visible evidence of our wisdom and character.   People of all ages will have a crease or two appear when making facial expressions, but over time that crease becomes ironed into the skin even if you’re not smiling or squinting.  Wrinkles are a term that describes creases, fold and furrows that occur as skin becomes less elastic and thin.

    So what causes skin to lose its ability to snap back and stay smooth? As we age our skin changes in several ways. The top layer of skin becomes thinner and more permeable, with a reduced skin barrier that allows more moisture to be lost to the environment. Deeper within the skin, collagen and elastin fibers decrease, making skin less elastic and firm.   Facial fat plays an important role in the appearance of our skin, and age related facial fat loss reduces the scaffolding that keeps skin looking taut and plump.

    Chronic facial expressions, such as smiling, frowning or squinting can create lines that remain even when the expressions are made.   Genetics is a factor in how soon your face starts to wrinkle, but environmental factors also play a role in their development.

    Here’s what you can do to slow development of facial wrinkles:

    -We all know that smoking is one of the leading causes of premature wrinkling and there are multiple causes.   The frequent pursing of the lips as a cigarette is smoked creates lines around the mouth and the chemicals in the smoke affect skin health and reduce blood flow.

    -Lighter skinned people tend to wrinkle more quickly and deeply than those with darker skin.   Fair skinned redheads fare the worst, but because their skin burns so easily many redheads started avoiding the sun early in life, helping to prevent sun induced damage.

    -Your job can affect how quickly you age-just take a look at the skin of golfers, farmers and construction workers to see how habitual sun exposure speeds the development of wrinkles.

    -Wear sunglasses whenever outside and when driving your car. Years of squinting can create lines around your eyes. Bigger is better, so opt for fashion forward large frames to protect your entire eye area.

    -There are cutting edge skincare products that can help skin repair and rebuild as well as protect from environmental damage.   Daily use of antioxidant serums, acids, retinoids and sunscreens can make a significant difference in skin aging.

    -Keep in mind that losing weight tends to show more in the face as we age, so maintaining a healthy weight throughout life will help you avoid facial atrophy.

    -Reduce dietary sugar and boost your intake of fruits and vegetables to ensure that you’re providing your skin with the nutrients needed for health.

    -Avoid sleeping on the same side each night and splurge on a 100% silk pillowcase to help avoid sleep creases. If you notice sleep lines every morning swap out your pillow for one that’s more firm, and slip in a neck roll to keep your face from creasing.

    -Botox really works, and starting early before you iron in wrinkles is the best way to keep skin smooth and line free.   Each treatment lasts up to four months and although it can be pricey, it can make a world of difference if you’re one of those people who have a permanent furrow between your eyes.

  • Debunking Five Beauty Mantras

    We’ve all been the recipients of dubious beauty advice, and although some tips may be based in fact, many others just don’t pan out to be true. Here are five beauty mantras that you can happily retire.

    1. The majority of the sun damage done to your skin occurs before age 18.

    This statement is one that has been drilled into us, but a recent study showed that for most people, only 20% of UV exposure is by age 18, with that number doubling by age 40 and hitting 60% by age 59.   So even if you didn’t wear sunscreen in your teens, you still can have a big impact on the amount of sun damage done to your skin by starting to use sun protection from your 20s on.

    2. Drinking lots of water will keep your skin hydrated.

    The level of moisture in your skin depends on your level of oil production, and environmental stressors, such as dry air, wind and sun exposure that strip moisture from the skin.   If you become severely dehydrated your skin will reflect that, but as long as you’re eating and drinking normally your skin gets all the water it needs.   The best way to keep your skin hydrated is by using a humectant type lotion and topping that with a barrier cream (see moisturizers blog).

    3. If you pluck a gray hair, several more will grow in its place.

    If only this were true, then those of us with thin hair could remedy the problem by doing some strategic plucking! Each hair grows from its own follicle, and when you pluck it there isn’t some magic that occurs causing that hairs follicle to multiply. The same thing applies to the saying that shaving causes your hair to grow in thicker. It just appears thicker after shaving because the outgrowth has a more blunt tip.

    3. You can get rid of cellulite.

    Sadly, there’s really nothing you can do to permanently change the appearance of the dreaded orange peel appearance of celullite. Great minds have focused on this problem (actually it’s been a point of research in the field of dermatology) without discovering a treatment that significantly reduces cellulite.   You can thank your parents if you’ve developed it, as genetics plays a role in whether your matrix of fibrous bands that trap fat as well as thinner skin allows those lumps to be visible.   Although there’s no treatment that permanently fixes this problem, there are plenty of lotions and lasers that claim they can reduce the appearance of orange peel skin. Most firming creams and lotions contain temporary skin tightening ingredients like caffeine, and moisturizers can plump up surface skin. Contrary to what you may think, being thin or fat doesn’t make much of a difference, although eating a healthy diet and exercising can certainly play a role in skin appearance. One thing that can help camouflage that orange peel skin is a self tanner, so slather it on when the weather makes shorts and sleeveless tops a must.

    4. Wearing makeup every day is bad for your skin.  

    Today’s makeups actually are good for you skin, with many including ingredients that increase cell turnover and provide moisture, sun protection and topical nutrients that benefit your skin health. Wearing makeup only becomes a problem when it isn’t removed properly at the end of the day. As long as you choose a makeup that’s compatible for your skin issues (oil-free for acne prone skin, and for sensitive skin a hypoallergenic product) daily use is fine.

  • Skin Care Systems

    We’ve all wondered at some point whether it makes sense to use a product line skin care system (cleanser, toner, moisturizer and treatment) or just pick and choose what we think we need. The reason it’s a good idea to build your skincare around a system is because companies specifically develop their lines so that each step builds on and enhances their product ingredients, enabling users to get the best results.   You may feel that just using a certain brand of cleanser is enough, but a toner after cleansing helps restore skin pH, and skin is protected and rejuvenated by a third step use of a compatible moisturizer.

    Most product lines carry systems for several skin types and even for specific problems such as acne or sensitive skin, with the ingredients for each line developed to correspond with and work together to achieve specific results.  The basic skincare system consists of a cleanser, toner, moisturizer and some sort of treatment such as a serum, although many include additional treatments that work within the system.

    Not only do skin care systems make cleaning, toning and protecting your skin easy, but they also take the guesswork out of determining which ingredients are best for your skin.   In addition, most women find that they’re more likely to go through the important steps of proper skin cleansing and care if they don’t have to think too much about it and just follow the steps.

  • Rosacea

    Do you notice that your face flushes when eating certain foods, and facial redness is a common problem that you try to hide with make up and concealer?   If these are familiar issues with your skin, you may have a condition called “rosacea.” It’s a fairly common skin issue, and manifests as facial flushing predominately on the cheeks, but can also include the nose and forehead. If untreated the condition can cause skin to develop dilated blood vessels, form small bumps over the affected areas and make your skin chronically irritated and sensitive.

    The cause of rosacea isn’t clear, but there’s some evidence that UV and environmental damage (extreme cold or heat and wind) and chemical skin irritants may trigger the formation. Although some foods may cause a flare in symptoms they aren’t associated with the development of rosacea. 
For most people, rosacea tends to run in cycles of flares (with increased redness and irritation) and periods of reduced symptoms.

    Although there’s no cure for rosacea, a visit to a dermatologist will help determine whether you have this condition, and your doctor can provide treatment options that help manage the redness and reduce flares. There are topical and oral medications that are very effective for treating rosacea, and catching this condition early can help reduce the development of more severe symptoms.

    You can impact your rosacea flares by determining what seems to increase your symptoms and modifying your skincare routine to keep your skin soothed and protected.   How you wash your facial skin can make a big difference in redness and irritation. Use your fingertips to gently massage a mild cleanser into your skin and avoid abrasive scrubs or washcloths. Rinse for at least 20 seconds with warm water, avoiding switches from hot to cold temperatures. Some people find even water can cause irritation so if you have this problem use a soothing creamy cleanser that can be wiped off instead of rinsed.   Gently blot your skin dry without rubbing, and allow your skin to dry completely before applying any products.

    Here are some tips to help care for your rosacea prone skin:

    -Check your skincare products for ingredients know to cause rosacea flares such as alcohol, witch hazel, fragrance, menthol, peppermint, eucalyptus oil.

    -Avoid using scrubs that contain exfoliating particles or acids.

    -Always do a small test patch on your neck before using a new product on your face.

    -Keep the number of products you use to a minimum-that way there’s less of a chance of some ingredient causing irritation.

    -Protect your skin from sun exposure, wind and extreme temperature shifts.

    -Avoid foods that cause your face to flush such as alcohol and spicy meals.

    www.anu-skin.net offers the Obagi Rosaclear line of products that work well for sensitive and redness prone rosacea skin. The Rosaclear Gentle Cleanser cleans your skin without causing irritation or drying, and the Rosaclear Hydrating Complexion Corrector and Rosaclear Skin Balancing Sun Protection SPF 30 have ingredients that sooth, protect and reduce redness.

  • Clay Mask Facial Treatment

    The skin product industry is constantly introducing new skin care ingredients, but there are some that have stayed popular because that have stood the test of time. One that is at the top of the list is a clay mask, and it’s with good reason. They’re easy to use, feel great and make your skin glow, all with one quick application.

    Although clay masks have been used for decades, there have been improvements to the basic clay ingredient with the addition of skin rejuvenating Alpha Hydroxy Acids and other exfoliating acids.   The inclusion of these ingredients boosts the effectiveness of a clay mask and can help target specific skin issues such as acne, redness and rough skin.

    There are a few tips for getting the most out of your clay mask application, so incorporate these points the next time you use one.   An insider tip is to not allow the mask to fully dry, especially if you have dry or flaking skin. Clay masks work by providing moisture and minerals when first applied wet, then as it begins to dry the mask stimulates the skin blood flow as it contracts. The key is to avoid letting your mask get to the fully dry (and cracked) phase, and washing it off just as it starts to feel less tacky and the color lightens up.

    Another tip is to avoid overuse of a clay mask. Most women find that using a mask three times a week is sufficient, although women with acne and oily skin may be able to increase the use to 4-5 times a week to help treat their skin issues.

    There are several different types of clay used in facial masks, and each offer specific effects depending on their mineral level and additional ingredients.

    In general, all clays masks do a great job of stimulating skin, removing surface debris and will leave your face looking clean and radiant.

  • Decoding The New Alphabet Skincare Products

    They span from BB to DD, and they’re the latest in skin care products that ride the wave of multi-treatment in one tube.   These genies in a bottle can be a great way to improve the look and feel of your skin with one product, but it’s important you choose the right one to fit your skin needs.

    The first of the trio, Beauty Balms, or BB creams, were created to provide foundation like coverage with the added skin care benefit of an SPF or anti-oxidant. Most provide more coverage than a tinted foundation, but be careful about thinking your BB cream is offering sun protection if the SPF is less than 30. BBs provide the highest level of coverage of the three alphabet creams, but it’s still lighter than a foundation.
    CC, or Color Correction creams pack a bit more punch than the BBs, and can do more to hide imperfections such as redness and hyperpigmentation.  CC creams are a good choice for women who have rosacea and need to tone down the redness with the color correcting pigments, or those who have sallow skin that can benefit from a CC cream with light reflecting particles. They also contain a sunscreen and ingredients that can improve skin conditions such as acne, dark spots or redness.

    The newest of the bunch, DD or Dynamic Do Alls (also are known as Daily Defense) creams pack anti-aging wrinkle busting ingredients, SPF and some color correcting all in one product.   A cult favorite (and with good reason as it delivers on all three) is Revision Intellishade SPF 45 in Original and Matt formulations. This one color really fits all sheer tint melts into skin, providing serious sun protection and a blend of skin revitalizing peptides and antioxidants in one silky cream.

    The best way to find your alphabet cream is to test out several to see which product gives you the results you want.   If you’re acne prone, an oil free CC cream with acne fighting salicylic acid may be a good choice, especially if it offers color correction for redness. Women who have few skin issues and just want a bit of coverage that also provides sunscreen would find BB creams are a great fit.   Those who would like to reduce fine lines, cover and correct skin imperfections as well as get some sun protection, a DD product is their dream cream.

  • Moisturizers

    One of the first things we put on our skin each morning is a moisturizer, but most of us don’t know that there are actually three major classes of moisturizers: occlusive, humectant and emollient. The effect of each type of moisturizer offers unique benefits, so it’s a good idea to make sure the product you’re using is the right choice for what you’d like to achieve with your moisturizer.

    It’s important to understand the basics of skin structure to see how the different types of moisturizers work.   The top layer of skin is the called the epidermis, with four thin layers underneath: the stratum basal, stratum spinosum, stratum granulosu and stratum corneum. The dermis lies beneath these layers and is where skin cells are formed. These cells continually migrate upward and end up on the top layer before being sloughed off. As these cells migrate upward, skin produces lipids, which are our body’s natural moisturizer, providing an excellent barrier for moisture loss.

    Environmental factors such as dry air, cold temperatures and chemicals and soaps applied to the skin can disrupt this natural moisture and lead to flaky, dehydrated skin.   Using the right moisturizer type can make a big difference in repairing dry, damaged skin and restoring the natural moisture level.

    Let’s discuss the three major types of moisturizers, how they work and the ingredients to look for in each.

    Occlusives

    Occlusives act as a barrier for the skin, coating the surface and slowing trans-epidural water loss and helping to maintain the skin’s natural moisture. Products that contain petrolatum and oils (such as mineral, jojoba, olive) provide a thick layer on top of the skin, and are especially helpful for retaining skin moisture during the dry, cold winter months.

    Humectants

    Humectants are true moisturizers, as they are able to bond with water molecules, drawing water from humid air into the skin as well as from the deeper layers of the skin to plump the top layer of skin. Look for products that contain hyaluronic acid, pyrrolidone carboxylic acid (PCA), glycerin, sorbitol, urea and hydroxyl and lactic acid. Many humectant products also contain occlusive ingredients to provide a two-fold effect of drawing in and holding moisture.

    Emollients

    Emollients work by filling the spaces between surface skin cells and can help repair skin and increase softness, smoothness and flexibility. Look for ingredients such as demethicone, cyclomethicone, cetyl and stearyl alcohols, stearic, linolenic, oleic and lauric acids and vegetable oils such as jojoba, grape and sesame seed. Emollients can also function as an occlusive if applied in a heavy layer.

    The key to finding the right fit for you skin is to think about what skin improvement you’d like to achieve with your moisturizer. If you have dry, rough skin you would benefit from layering a humectant first, and follow with an emollient that includes occlusive properties. You’ll be providing much needed moisture to your skin and the protection of an emollient/occlusive to hold in that moisture.

    If your skin is frequently exposed to environmental stressors such as wind, cold or dry heat, a thick a product that provides a thick layer of protection will help prevent the development of dry, cracked skin.

    If you have more oily prone skin, you’d probably skip the occlusives as those products tend to be heavy, and look for a lightweight humectant to help keep your skin plump. During the winter months you may need to add an emollient to the mix, but be careful if you’re acne prone as some ingredients can clog pores.

    Almost everyone can benefit from using a humectant each day, and adding an emollient or occlusive product as needed.   If your skin is dehydrated and you only apply an occlusive product, you’ll just be coating over dry skin and not treating the underlying problem. Occlusive are a great way to prevent skin from drying out as long as the epidermis isn’t dehydrated, but if the skin cells aren’t plumped with water you won’t effectively treat that dry skin look with this type of product.

    The key is to consistently maintain a plump top layer of skin by applying a humectant product, and if you have irritated or scaly skin using an emollient on top of the humectant to treat those issues. Follow up with an occlusive if your skin is going to be exposed to wind, heat or cold, or if you tend to very dry skin.
    Providing the appropriate moisturizer not only will improve the look and feel of your skin, but research has show that the consistent use of some ingredients, such as the fatty acids in emollients, can improve skin on a cellular level and protect from environmental damage.

    Here are a few examples of products that fit into each category and all work well when used together.

  • Sunscreens

    Summer sun and hot weather bring on the outdoor activities that result in more skin exposed to the sun.   Although we all like to get a bit more color after a dreary winter, learning some tips on how to avoid skin damage from sun exposure is always in season.

    Most people don’t think a lot about the sunscreen they slap on when hitting the beach, and even less about whether the product they’re using is effective.   But if you’re going to go through the process of using a sunscreen it’s important to understand what’s involved in providing adequate sun protection.

    Every bottle of sunscreen by law must provide a SPF (Sun Protection Factor) label with a corresponding number listed. The SPF number is provided to help you determine the amount of time you can stay in the sun without burning after applying the product. The higher the number, the longer the protection time, although anything higher than a SPF 30 isn’t really necessary, because to provide sustained protection sunscreens should be reapplied every couple of hours and after swimming or sweating.

    Just because you use a SPF 30 or higher sunscreen doesn’t necessarily mean you’re fully protected, because SPF only refers to UVB (ultraviolet B) rays, and doesn’t tell you whether your sunscreen also protects your skin from UVA rays-the ones that contribute to photo aging and skin cancer. To find a sunscreen that offers protection from both types of UV rays look for the words “broad spectrum” on the label.   New FDA labeling rules require any sunscreen that’s termed “broad spectrum” to have passed a test confirming that it blocks both UVB and UVA rays.

    Products that are labeled “sun blocks” contain zinc or titanium oxide, and instead of filtering light (as a sunscreen with a combination of light filtering chemicals does) they reflect and scatter light away from the skin.   These types of products are especially effective for blocking UVB rays as well as UVA, and are better tolerated for those with sensitive skin.

    Here’s a checklist to help you when choosing the best type of sun protection for you skin:

    -Choose a product that offers at least an SPF 15 or higher and includes the words “broad spectrum” for both UVB and UVA protection.

    -Apply sunscreen underneath make up, and at least 15 minutes before sun exposure.

    -Check the expiration date and throw out any bottles that past that date or are over a year old.

    -Wear sunscreen whenever you’re outside, and when in your car or sitting near a window, as UVA rays can penetrate glass.

    -No matter what the SPF rating, reapply your sunscreen every two hours and more often if swimming or sweating.

    -Be generous and use at least two full tablespoons to cover your face and a thick, even coating over your body.

    -No sunscreen can fully protect your skin from the sun, so wearing a broad brimmed hat will help prevent photo aging of your facial skin, and always wear sunglasses that provide UV eye protection.

    Some people avoid sunscreens or blocks on their face because many products contain ingredients that can clog pores and increase acne. If your skin is acne prone, look for products that won’t clog pores such as Obagi Professional-C Suncare Broad Spectrum SPF 30, and for more sensitive skin, Obagi Nu Derm Physical UV Sun Block SPF 32 # 6.

    If you tend towards drier skin or have mature skin issues, Obagi Gentle Rejuvenation Fortified Sunscreen with Vitamin C SPF 30 will help protect and rejuvenate your skin at the same time.   If you find that your sunscreen leaves a white residue under make up, look for a product that that offers an ultra sheer coverage like Obagi-C Rx-SunGuard SPF 30.

  • Vitamin C

    Our last blog discussed the benefits of exfoliating your skin and how doing this treatment several times a weeks helps boost absorption of topical skincare products. In this blog we’re going to discuss is vitamin C, one of the most important ingredients you can apply each day to improve your skin tone, texture, luminosity and health.   The benefits of consistently using a topical vitamin C product include:

    -Enhanced UV protection when combined with a sunscreen.

    -Reduction in fine lines, wrinkles and hyperpigmentation.

    -Increased skin tone.

    -Improved moisture retention.

    The mechanism behind the ability of topical vitamin C to improve skin is through the antioxidant nature of this vitamin.   Our skin is damaged when free radicals are formed as a result of sun exposure and other environmental stressors at a rate that exceeds our body’s ability to repair the damage. Vitamin C is an antioxidant and potent neutralizer of free radicals, helping to prevent damage within the skin and maintain normal collagen production and skin elasticity.   Recent research has shown that a daily application of topical vitamin C along with sunscreen use helps to boost sun protection and reduce sun exposure skin damage.

    There are many skincare products available that include vitamin C in their ingredients, but the rate of absorption can vary greatly depending on the type of Vitamin C used, the percentage of vitamin C in the product, and the age of the product.   Look for products that contain L-ascorbic acid listed in the first several ingredients, and make sure it’s packaged in an opaque bottle or tube that limits air exposure.   When exposed to air and light this vitamin will quickly lose potency, so packaging is important.

    If your skin tends to be dry and sensitive, start with a lower level of vitamin C serum, such as the Obagi Professional-C Serum 5%, or, for those with

    hyperpigmentation issues, the Obagi-C Rx C-Clarifying serum, normal to dry. If you have oiler or acne prone skin, the Obagi Professional-C Serum 15% or 20% is a good choice. Before heading outside each day, you can get your sun protection along with a dose of vitamin C by applying Obagi Professional-C Sun care Broad-spectrum SPF 30 lotion.

    Obagi offers a large array of vitamin C based lines and kits, so visit us at http://www.anu-skin.net/obagi/professional-c.html to see all the products we offer to meet your skincare needs.

  • Spring Skin Renewal

    In our Anu-Skin spring inaugural blog issue we’re going to explore how you can take off the dull, dry skin of winter and get your glow back. For many women the cold days of winter have left them with dull flaky skin, so the first step towards glowing skin is exfoliation. When you exfoliate you’re removing the top dead layer of skin and debris, allowing the new skin below to be exposed. The effect has two benefits: your skin will appear more radiant, and any products you apply will be absorbed more efficiently.  

    The best way to exfoliate your face is by using a fine-grained scrub with a cleanser containing some type of light acid. For oiler, acne prone skin an oil soluble salicylic acid cleanser such as Obagi Clenziderm M.D. Daily Care Foaming Cleanserworks best for penetrating deeper into the pores. Those with drier or more sensitive skin types may prefer using a milder cleanser, such as Obagi360 Exfoliating Cleanser, that’s formulated withpapain, the stabilized form of papaya fruit acid.

    The key to avoiding skin irritation when exfoliating is to use a light touch and gentle, circular motion as you cleanse.   Contrary to what you may think, scrubbing harder doesn’t do a better job-you want to let the cleanser and your washcloth or Clarisonic brush do the work.   Most women find that exfoliating their facial skin two to three days a week is sufficient, although you may need to adjust your routine depending on your skin type and sensitivity.

    The last important exfoliation step is rinsing, so take the time thoroughly rinse with at least 10 splashes of warm water to remove all traces of cleanser and debris.   Pat your face dry (don’t rub) and then take the next step towards beautiful skin by applying the appropriate topical serums or creams for your skin issues.

    Check our next blog where we’ll cover tips on the best type of skincare products for revitalizing and protecting your skin.

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