Saturday, July 25, 2009


Here’s a recipe for an easy, inexpensive, and effective toner for dry to normal skin types you can make in your kitchen for less than a dollar. You may have to spend another dollar for a spray bottle with a cap but, of course, you can reuse the bottle many times. A cap is important to keep your sprayer sanitary between uses.

Remember, this homemade toner meets the acidic requirement for an effective toner and also provides an antioxidant bonus. I am a firm believer in using as many antioxidants and vitamins as possible in skincare products, in addition to taking them internally. There are plenty of people who argue that topical antioxidants and vitamins are a waste of time. I’ve found them to be very helpful. I’ve used this recipe for years. As proof of my theory I offer a close look at myself. I’m currently 62 years old have no lines or crows’ feet as you can see in my picture. (Knock on wood!) I truly believe that topical and internal supplements are a key element in our skin’s appearance.

Anyway, here goes:

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 tablespoon of rice vinegar to toner. For a pleasant scent add several drops of oil of lavender or another calming 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. Chilled toner will be extra refreshing during the summer months.

Since you won’t be able to test acid levels of toner before purchasing, I’ve included a list of other ingredients to avoid when shopping for toner. Read labels carefully before purchasing any cosmetic product.

Artificial fragrance
Cedarwood oil
Clove oil
Colors or dyes
Eucalyptus oil
Hydrogen peroxide
Lemon/lime oil
Orange/Tangerine oil
Peppermint oil

Ingredients that are recommended in skincare products include:

Almond oil
Avocado oil
Grapeseed oil
Olive oil
Salicyclic acid
Soy extracts
Vitamin E oil

Give it a try...what have you got to lose except paying for the packaging, marketing and hype of manufacturers.

Next time I’ll include a recipe for oily skin.



Saturday, July 18, 2009


There are several procedures available to counteract ‘age spots’ that can only be done by licensed professionals. They are more effective than OTC products but also have more serious side effects.

The methods used by an esthetician are less severe, have fewer side effects, take longer to achieve noticeable effects than those used by a physician, but are also less obvious to others. The most common are described below.

The first method is microdermabrasion. A small appliance blows either sodium or aluminum crystals against the client’s skin through a small nozzle to loosen only the dead surface skin cells. The same nozzle then vacuums the spent crystals and loosened skin cells back into the machine. Next a treatment serum formulated to slow or halt pigment production in the lower layers of the skin is applied. Micro-dermabrasion is painless; causes only slight, temporary reddening; and is almost undetectable to others. If renewing your skin in a confidential way appeals to you, microdermabrasion is the way to go.

Since a series of treatments (usually 6) must be done to produce good results, this process can be more costly in both dollars and time. The price of home lightening products will also add to the finally cost.

Using a home product is required in order to continue the lightening process between professional treatments. Although UV light must avoided, makeup can be used as usual. My clients have reported that their friends only noticed a subtle improvement in skin appearance, a youthful glow, after several treatments but were unsure what my client was doing to achieve those results.

Acid peels can also be done by an esthetician. The percentage of acid is lower than those products used by a physician, requiring them to be applied in a series of treatments. Depending on the strength of the acid, reddening will occur following by peeling.

If having large patches of dead skin peeling from your face for a few days is a problem, acid peels may not be the treatment for you. Since the protective layers of skin are stripped away during this process, all UV light must be avoided otherwise more sun damage to the lower layers of the skin will result.

If you wish to have quicker results, physician-based treatments may be your choice. They use stronger, more intrusive products and processes but have deeper, longer-lasting effects.

For example, dermabrasion, removes the upper 7 layers of the skin by sanding them away with a wire brush. The patient is given a local anesthetic for the process and healing is similar to any surgical procedure including wrapping the face in surgical dressings.

A physician can also administer much stronger chemical peels than those used by an esthetician.

Obviously the best way to deal with ‘age spots’ is to avoid them in the first place with good quality sunscreens and sunblocks. Treating the spots after they appear is more costly and time consuming.

Whatever you choose to do…I hope I have given you some choices to think about.



Saturday, July 11, 2009


This post is one in a continuing series discussing masques. This post covers masques that can be made from items available at the local grocery store. While organic produce would be the best to use…any fresh produce will do.

Please remember that masks should always be applied to a clean face and never worn for longer than 10 to 20 minutes. The mask should be removed with warm water followed by toner and moisturizer. Any of the following ingredients should be avoided by those allergic to them. Masking should be done on a weekly basis for best results.

Here’s a sample of masks you can make at home and their use:

Ø Fresh strawberries or tomatoes can be crushed and applied to a clean face. This mask loosens the dead skin cells that build up on the surface of our face due to their natural acid. It should never be used by anyone with sensitive skin or Rosacea.

Ø Mashed avocadoes or bananas are rich in vitamins and are especially good for someone with dry and sensitive skin. Following the masking, your skin will feel moist, soft and smooth.

Ø Yogurt or buttermilk, warmed to room temperature, provides enzymes and beneficial bacteria that loosen dead skin cells without the irritating acid found in fruit masks. This type of mask is most helpful to aging, sensitive skin.

Ø Sliced or shredded potato applied to the face reduces surface oils. It can also be used to reduce under eye puffiness.

Ø Cooked oatmeal, cooled to room temperature, adds vitamins and reduces oiliness. Also small amounts of oatmeal can be mixed into any mask that is too strong on its own. For example, if the strawberry/ tomato mask is uncomfortable due to high acid levels, adding oatmeal will not only make the mask easier to apply but will reduce the acid content.

Try one of these masks and see the difference 20 minutes a week will make for your skin…not to mention the relaxation it can provide. Make mask time your time. Lie down in a quiet place, light a few candles and listen to some soothing music. All of these things will help your face look better too!

Next time I’ll have more mask suggestions including herbal masks and their uses.



Saturday, July 4, 2009


Earlier I told you about UVA damage that causes ‘hyper-pigmentation’ or the permanently dark patches that discolor our skin.

The good news is that there are products available to reverse hyperpigmentation but effective products are only available from the major skincare product companies. This means they are more expensive than drug store products.

New treatment antidotes are being discovered all the time since hyperpigmentation is an growing concern, especially for baby boomers. We’re just so consumed by looking younger than we are.

As always, it is important to read labels carefully. First level active ingredients for treating hyperpigmentation include: Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Bearberry (Uva Ursi), Licorice, and Hydroxy Acids. All these substances are safe to use for long periods of time. I’ve seen impressive results with Dr. Murad’s Vitamin C cream.

More active ingredients that actually bleach the discoloration include: hydroquinone, kojic aicd, azelaic acid, and hydrocortisone. However, health warnings accompany these stronger agents.

For example, hydroquinone has been outlawed in Europe due to a suspected link to cancer. In this country, the FDA determined that the European studies are questionable. So straddling the fence, they say that products with under 2% hydroquinone can be sold over the counter or used by estheticians. Products with higher levels can only be prescribed by a physician but may not exceed 4%.

Lower levels of hydroquinone have so-so effects but the bleaching effects of prescribed versions I’ve seen are amazing. Its up to you to determine if you want to risk side effects or the possible cancer risk.

Kojic acid is a safe substance derived from Japanese mushrooms. It works on pigment molecules at the lowest layer of our skin, interrupting pigment production. It is so safe, kojic acid is also used as a flavor enhancer in foods.

Azelaic acid is another naturally occurring substance. It is also often used in acne products. Along with kojic acid, azelaic acid has been used extensively in Japan for decades to produce the pale faces that are the cultural ideal.

Retin-A is another prescription treatment. It was developed from concentrated elements of Vitamin A for a topical acne treatment. During drug trials, Retin-A was observed to lighten acne scars. Retin-A is supposed to be used for short periods of time because of possible side effects but I have met women who have been using Retin-A for years. They are afraid to stop using it because they are afraid their acne or hyperpigmentation will return. While it does not bleach the dark patches, it accelerates exfoliation and thus thins the skin.

Next time I’ll discuss professional treatments for hyper-pigmentation.