Friday, September 12, 2008


Dear Friend,

In a previous post I talked about the formation of AGE’s and how they contribute to advanced aging through premature wrinkling of our skin. Now I’ll discuss changes you can make in your life to reduce AGE formation and reverse their damage.

1. Reducing sugar intake to 10% of your daily calories including hidden sugar in highly processed foods and fructose corn syrup. Corn syrup is believed to produce more AE’s than any type of sugar and is found in almost all processed food from soda to crackers. When you start reading package labels you will be amazed to find fructose corn syrup in almost everything we eat.

2. Take at least one milligram of Vitamins B1 and B6 each day. Both vitamins are strong AGE inhibitors.

3. Wear a sunscreen of at least SPF 30 daily. AGE’s develop more rapidly in skin exposed to the sun according to a study done by the British Journal of Dermatology.

4. Increase consumption of antioxidant rich fruits, vegetables and nuts as well as applying antioxidants topically by using products containing green tea, vitamins C and E, and seaweed.

5. Look for products that contain aminoguanidine and alistin which block formation of AGE’s. Aminoguanidine keeps AGE’s from binding to the collagen and elastin in our skin while alistin attracts AGE damage to itself as a decoy thereby lessening the damage to the proteins in our skin.

An easy, inexpensive toner that contains the powerful antioxidants of green tea or cranberry juice can be made using the following recipes.


Mix 8 ounces of distilled or filtered water with 1 green tea bag and allow sitting at room temperature until the water just begins to turn light yellow. Discard tea bag. Add 1 teaspoon of rice vinegar to toner. For a pleasant scent add several drops of oil of lavender or another essential oil. Place mixture in a spray bottle and apply to face immediately after the second cleanse.

You will notice that a brownish cloud will form in the bottom of your bottle after a few days. This is a natural by-product of the rice vinegar interacting with the green tea. Please discard the toner when you see this and make a new batch. You can extend the life of each batch by storing it in the fridge. Toner stored in the fridge during summer months will be extra refreshing.

If you have oily skin and acne you may want to substitute the following recipe.

Mix 8 ounces of distilled or filtered water with 1 tsp unsweetened cranberry juice. Place mixture in a spray bottle and apply to face immediately after the second cleansing.


Carolyn Johnson

Friday, July 25, 2008


Dear Friend...

Honestly…are you wearing sunscreen today? If your answer is “NO!” I’m going to tell why this is soooo important and, hopefully, change you into a sunscreen user.

Let me tell you that sunscreen should really be called daylight-screen but that name is too long to fit on any product label. During this discussion I will be using the longer name to re-enforce the idea for you.

Anytime there’s daylight, even on overcast days, the UV rays are zipping around and bouncing off your body. This effect is multiplied when you’re walking on pavement because the rays are flying down from above and bouncing upward from the hard surface giving you double trouble. So when you’re walking from your car to the grocery store or to work, your face is being bombarded by UV rays!

Over the years I’ve met a lot of resistance from my clients about adding daylight-screen to their morning routine and I live in Fresno, CA where summer temperatures regularly reach 100 degrees or more!

Daylight-screen is just as important as the cleanser and toner in your morning routine. It not only protects your skin from the sun’s harmful rays today but determines how your face will look in 10, 20 or 30 years from now.

You see, UV rays penetrate so deeply into your skin that they damage the dermis. That’s the layer of skin where new cells are made every minute of the day. The damage affects the tiny color factories where pigmentation is made either causing them to work overtime and create the age spots that develop later in life or killing them outright. It’s this over-action and ‘bleaching’ that causes the mottling seen on older peoples’ skin especially those who have spent a lot of time in the sun.

More horrifying than the color variations in our skin is the damage the sun does to the elastin and collagen in the dermis.

Collagen is a protein that provides a cushion between our upper skin layers and muscles. This cushion gives shape, plumpness and smoothness to our face.

Elastin provides the ‘snap’ that enables our skin to return to its original position when pulled one way or another. It acts like the rubber bands in a waistband. If you repeatedly expose elastic to high temperatures, it gets ‘stretchy’ and sags into folds. This exactly mirrors the action in our skin when our elastin is damaged.

So now I hope you see how important sunscreen is for your face today and for your future face!

I know, I’ve heard all the excuses…
• Sunscreen is greasy, which is especially bad for oily skin or acne
• Sunscreen smells funny
• I live in an area that doesn’t receive much direct sunlight
• Sunscreen is only needed during the summer months

There are daylight-screen on the market that answer all these objections. While the better products are also more expensive, you can find a daylight-screen that isn’t greasy and doesn’t smell. There’s even a product that sprays on ‘dry’ to the touch.

I recommend that you start by investigating the Dermalogica line. They have the widest variety of sun products including one that can be mixed into your foundation to ‘boost’ its SPF.

Speaking of foundation, don’t forget that mineral makeup provides the highest SPF, is slightly waterproof, and is good for your skin because it does not clog pores.

If you think you are safe from UV rays because you spend more time in your car instead of the great outdoors, remember that glass does not stop UV rays and tinted glass only blocks about 1-2% of those harmful rays. As proof of this fact, I can tell you that I see much more sun damage on the left side of my clients’ faces as well as their left arm and hand.

One last parting note…remember that daylight is 8 times stronger when it reflects off snow, ice or water. A word to the wise: keep using your daylight screen every day not just during the Summer!

Yours in Great Skin,


Saturday, July 5, 2008


Dear Friend...

Beside the weight gain, increased fatigue and diminished immune system function resulting from diets high in sugar, it is now recognized by researchers that diets heavy in sugar accelerate wrinkling and premature aging.

In a process called glycation, sugar in the bloodstream attaches to proteins and form AGE’s (advanced glycation end products). As more AGE’s form they damage neighboring proteins in a chain reaction similar to dominos falling.

Collage and elastin, the two major components of the dermis layer of our skin are most susceptible to damage by AGE’s. Collage and elastin provide plumpness and firmness in our skin. AGE’s cause these two proteins to become brittle and dry speeding early wrinkling.

AGE’s also deactivate our body’s antioxidant enzymes that provide protection against sun damage. Sun damage is the #1 cause of aging skin.

Its not all bad news, however, you can reverse AGE damage through the use of retinol topical products and diet modification.

Next time I’ll list ways you can fight AGE formation and damage.


Carolyn Johnson

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


Dear Friend…

Ever look into a mirror and see a zit appear out of nowhere? And have you watched it getting bigger and redder by the minute?

Here’s the simplest, fastest and cheapest way to keep that pimple from becoming Mt Everest.

Apply ice to the spot for five minutes then remove it for 15 minutes before reapplying for another 5 minutes. Repeat this process for up to an hour. I swear that the zit will shrink before our eyes! I’ve used this myself and recommended to clients who have had equally good results.

It’s really important to give your skin that 15 minute rest before reapplying the ice because prolonged use of the ice may cause damage to the lower layers of your skin where new cells are generated.

How Do Pimples Form?

Attached to the base of each hair follicle is an oil gland that secretes lubricant to keep our skin moist and supple while making our hair shiny and healthy. Inside every hair follicle are millions of bacteria whose only purpose in life is to digest excess oil produced by this gland as well as the dead skin cells that shed from the lining of the follicle. (I really hope you’re not eating while reading this!)
When the dead cell layer on the surface of our skin thickens, even a little; it can form a cap over the follicle causing a backup of the oil. The bacteria, presented with this ‘all you can eat buffet’ start reproducing faster to keep up with the supply. As the bacteria levels increase, however, the lining of the follicle is irritated.

Guess what happens next! Yes, the oil gland starts churning out more oil to soothe the irritation. Then our busy bacteria start to reproduce even faster.

Happily this cycle doesn’t go on forever otherwise we’d be walking around with pimples the size of turnips on our face. (I know you sometimes think your zit is the size of a turnip but let’s be real here!)

How Does It Work?

Using ice breaks the cycle because bacteria hate cold. First, the cold slows reproduction and then it kills the remaining bacteria.

As a side benefit the cold also reduces the inflammation that is caused by our white cells fighting the infection. Yes, a pimple is a localized infection. Ewww! Anyway the swelling and redness will diminish quickly, too!

Please try this remedy a time or two. I’d love to hear about your results as well as your comments.



Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Keys to Good Exfoliation or ‘How To Get to Fresher Skin’ – Part I

Dear Friend,

Exfoliation can be done manually or chemically. Either method thins the top layer of our skin which is composed entirely of dead skin cells. These cells have migrated upward from the deepest layer of our skin, called the dermis.

As each cell travels toward the surface it naturally loses moisture. A cross section of skin shows these dead cells, collectively called the ‘horny’ layer, look like microscopic overlapping fish scales. Their purpose to trap moisture in the lower layers of our skin as well as protect them from the environmental effects. We should never try to remove all of the horny layer at one time. Doing that would leave our face raw and open to bacterial infection to say nothing of the additional sun damage we’d suffer.

Manual exfoliation usually involves using an abrasive product like a scrub or specially designed brushes. When using scrubs, you should avoid any product that contains nutshells. No matter how small the shell pieces are there will still be sharp edges that can make microscopic cuts in your skin allowing airborne bacteria to enter and possibly cause infection and irritation.

Plastic beads are another ingredient to avoid in scrubs. This is a cheap ingredient that simply rolls over the skin’s surface without removing any skin cells.

The best scrubs contain ingredients like oatmeal, flax seed, rice hulls, or corn flour. These natural items swell when wet so they don’t get ‘stuck’ in your pores. Additionally, when wet any sharp edges are softened so they won’t cause any scrapes or cuts in your skin.

You can easily make your own inexpensive scrub. While it may not be as effective as some commercial products it won’t over exfoliate either. The first ingredient is old-fashioned oatmeal processed in a blender or food processor until it becomes a flour. You can add a little of this flour to your second cleansing up to three times a week.

For more aggressive exfoliation action, mix the oat flour in equal parts with dark brown sugar. Pour a little of this mixture into the palm of your hand, add a few drops of a good quality oil like extra virgin olive, grapeseed, or almond oil. Rub this mixture gently on your face especially where you have congestion (blackheads). Cleanse again afterward to remove all the oil.

Please don’t ever scrub over pimples or pustules! The abrasive action of the scrub may burst the pimple and allow scrub ingredients to get trapped in the open pore. You’ll only be making a bad situation worse!

Next time I’ll discuss exfoliation brushes, the 2nd method of manual exfoliation.


Carolyn Johnson

Sunday, February 10, 2008


Dear Friend,

If you are like most of us this time of year, your skin is dry, flakey, dull and lifeless. Don’t panic, this condition is repairable and reversible.

This dryness is due to reduced moisture in both outdoor and indoor air; switching between hot to cold temperatures; and our body’s natural protection against the harsh elements of Winter.

Usually to combat this increased dryness, we pile on more and richer lotions which improve our skin’s appearance for a short period but actually cause additional problems like clogged pores leading to blackheads and pimples.

The real remedy for winter skin is a 3-step process:

Step 1: Thinning, or exfoliating, the dead skin cell layer that naturally builds up over time.

Step 2: Adding moisture to the cells uncovered following exfoliation.

Step 3: Trapping that moisture so it can’t escape into the environment

Good, safe exfoliation not only will improve your skin’s appearance immediately but when done regularly, your skin will begin to produce more new cells in the deepest layer, called the dermis, and start them on their trip to the surface of our skin.

This generation and migration process is called the ‘cell turnover rate’. Turnover rate is affected by age as well as our general health including diet, exercise and hydration. A faster turnover rate results in moister, younger looking skin on a daily basis.

Next time I’ll discuss how manual scrubs and how they can give you skin that looks, feels and behaves better!


Carolyn Johnson

Saturday, January 26, 2008

DOUBLE CLEANSE: How Dirty Do You Think My Face Is Anyway!

Dear Friend:

Of the hundreds of facials I’ve given, less than a dozen clients were aware that the most effective cleansing procedure includes washing your face twice (one right after another with warm NOT HOT water) then blotting your face dry with a clean towel. This routine should be done in the morning and again in the evening.

The two separate cleansings are not done simply to remove environmental dirt that has accumulated on your face (unless you work in a coal mine).

The first cleanse removes makeup, oils and dirt as well as lowering the number of bacteria on the surface of your face. NOTE: All your makeup should be gone after this cleanse. If there’s makeup remaining on your face, your using a product that’s clogging your pores and creating blackheads and pimples. But that’s a discussion for another day!

Here’s the Secret! The 2nd cleanse weakens the chemical bond our body manufactures to hold the protective layer of dead skin cells on the surface of your face. This chemical bond, called the ‘acid mantel’, is comprised of perspiration, hormones and the residue of everything we eat or drink. It is slightly acidic, like our skin.

While we need some of these dead cells to protect our skin from the environment, we tend to accumulate too many as we age. Over retention of these dead cells is the major cause of the dull dryness in mature clients and clogged pores in acne clients.

Babies replace the dead skin layer every 17 days. This process slows to 28 days by the time we reach our 20’s. Thereafter, the replacement rate keeps pace with our age in decades so that when you reach your 60’s, as I have, that layer would remain in place for 60 days if nothing was done to slough off the build up.

Since moisture depleted cells are continuously pushing up from the lower layers of our skin, this entire dead cell layer can thicken to a depth of 25 cells which is a little like wearing a microscopic layer of plastic wrap.

As proof of this, closely examine a piece of dead skin that peels off after a sunburn. You’ll see that this dead skin is slightly grey and grainy. Dead skin looks the same way while on the surface of your face. Thinning the dead cell layer, called the ‘horny’ layer, also sends a message to the deepest layer of our skin to generate new cells and start them on their way to the surface. Accelerating this process leads to moister, younger looking skin as well as better behaving skin, on a daily basis.

The key to speeding up this cell turnover process is exfoliation.

Next time, I’ll discuss exfoliation methods.


Carolyn Johnson