Posts Tagged ‘salicylic acid’

Fashion Flash logoThis week Geri of Fab Over 50 is hosting  Fashion Flash.  There are literally  hundreds of blogs  online for women  but few  have  the informative and  interesting posts  that appear daily on Fab Over 50.   There are a platoon of experts that offer   cutting edge advice on a wide range of subjects including   cosmetic surgery women’s health, family dynamics and sexuality.  You can send in a question, any question and Fab Over 50  will get you an answer.  Cool.

The Green Beauty Guide

April is Environmental Awareness Month  and the perfect time to  take a look at  The Green Beauty Guide by Julie Gabriel.  I get many questions and  comments about  chemicals in skin and hair  products and  The Green Beauty Guide is filled with useful information on natural beauty care.

The book begins with  extensive background info on potential   hazards and toxins in commercial products such as DEA in shampoos and    petrochemicals in baby cleansers.   Gabriel also points out that some so-called green and/or green beauty products  can inadvertently contain toxins used in the manufacture of the products.   Scary stuff but  the  book just does not just raise problems, it offers solutions.

The Ten Commandments of Green Beauty

The author  raises  a lot of issues and offers  some pretty dense science, but  then puts her approach into an easy to understand  format with  ten green beauty rules.  These include a list of ingredients to avoid   ( eg caoal tar, phenols, phthalates, formaldehyde  and synthetic fragrances), avoiding celebrity endorsements and advice,  tossing  out products  when they pass their ” use before date”, and don’t overspend on skin and hair care.

I was esepcially impressed with her dozens of home recipes that used  organic yet inexpensive and readily available ingredients.  For example I I LOVED her green tea and lavandar cleansing powder that also  contained  vitamin C and a crushed aspirin tablet.  The green tea  provides world class antioxidants, the dried  lavendar is anti-inflammatory and the aspirin  contains salicylic acid which is  a super safe and effective exfoliator.  Brilliant.


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medicine cabinetWhen a product delivers  for me I tend  to stay with it until its discontinued.   While loyalty is admirable, its better to understand that skin  needs can change  and so should our  products.  Here are six new favorites to bring my basic tool  box to 20 I can’t live without products.

1. Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash ($8.00)

When my skin developed strange red splotches and spots, I needed to crank up my skin cleaning routinue.  This 2.5% salicylic gel  leaves my skin clean, but not tight.  If my skin feels especially oily, I spurt a dab of  this gel on my Clarisonic brush head  and buff away.

2. SkinCeuticals Physical Fusion UV Defense SPF 50 ( $32)

With my newly irritable skin I could no longer use my favorite  sun screens.  Every thing I tried  provoked breakouts.  At one point my  only option seemed a big hat  in summer and a ski mask in winter.  When I interviewed laser expert Dr  Tina Alster on post- laser  care, she urged me to try  this zinc based sunblock.  It is as good as promised.  On my skin it looks like a nicely formulated foundation, gives me a 50 SPF and never, ever causes  spots and splotches.  Great call.

3.  Susan Posnick Brush-On Block ($30)

I top my sunblock with a bronzer and blush so after two hours I’m not going to wash off my face and reapply a liquid sunscreen.  Enter Brush On Block SPF30.  This tinted zinc sunblock powder is packaged in a brush topped tube that floats on so easily  I don’t even need a mirror to apply it.  In summer, I can  just  pull it out  of my bag and brush it on as I walk down a sunny street.

4. Jane Iredale Corrective Colors ( $24)

You know a product is a keeper when you go out to buy another one when you see  its running out.  This defines my relationship to Color Correctives.   Many concealers do a nice job dealing with problem areas ( ie under eye circles), but Color Correctives  seem to last  all day. 

5. Neutrogena On-The-Spot Acne Treatment ( $6.00)

This small tube delivers 2.5% of benzoyl peroxide acne  fighting power.  Benzoyl peroxide blocks the breakout process by  killing the bacteria in the pores that   can trigger breakouts.  Used with the  Neutrogena salicylic acid  fortified  cleanser, it attacks acne on two fronts.  Salicylic acid  strips away the skin that is blocking the pores and the benzoyl peroxide deals with the acne provoking bacteria.  Its like the Batman and Robin of acne care.

6. Sally Hansen Airbrush Legs ($ 12)

During the dead of winter, I don’t even think about the skin  on my legs.  Hidden by boots, tights or pants,  my legs are   on their own.  But with  skirt and dress weather  just around the corner,  I know I will be dealing with  ghostly  white legs that don’t even match the rest of my skin.  Given what I  now  know about skin cancer and melanoma, toasting my  legs in a tanning booth is out of the question.  After  many self tanning failures that left my legs splotchy  and my bathroom a mess, I discovered  Sally Hansen Airbrush Legs.  Its  quick, inexpensive and  works beautifully.  I used to use it just in winter, but now that  fashion  has turned its back on pantie hose, I spray it on all year round.

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I’m always looking for the ideal facial.  Not infrequently, I leave the facial looking a bit splotchy and/or greasy  And the next moring  I wake up with… breakouts. But I still kept looking.  I wanted something that would  make my skin  look fresh, poreless with a  pink, not red glow.  And this summer I found it at the office of Park Avenue cosmetic surgeon, Dr Paul Lorenc. Famous for inventing the endoscopic browlift, Dr Lorenc is a  physician who believes in combining non-invasive anti-aging  tools like the Hydrafacial with surgical options.

 The Hydrafacial is considered the third generation of  microdermabrasion.   It  has about seven steps, each  one offering different but related benefits.  The Hydrafacial combines  a unique type of   tip with an array of products.  The spiral tip ( see pix) rotates on the skin as the suction  pulls up dead skin and  empties the pores.  After the skin  with wiped with a gentle cleanser, the first pass  uses  lactic acid to loosen  the top dead layer  of skin.  Next pass gets serious with a  15% glycolic acid combined with  2% salicylic acid to stimulate better skin growth and reduce brown spots. 

Then came the part of  facial we love to hate–extraction.   I tend to  get clogged pores on my  nose, and what the Hydrafacial is missed  was  now  eliminated by Carissa, Dr Lorenc’s beautiful  technician.    And then the Hydrafacial continued with  more exfoliation with a diamond tip for additional  cleansing and smoothing.   

Now that the skin  is cleansed of the top layer of dead cells and the pores emptied of old oil and dirt, the Hydrafacial applies  a peptide complex that has been shown to improve skin elasticity and reduce lines. This is followed by a serum of  antioxidants and  the super moisturizer hyaluronic acid.  Because the skin and pores have been cleared of debris, these anti-agers can be better absorbed by the skin.    

Carissa offered me an additional moisturizer ( which I passed on) and a zinc based sunscreen which I applied  happily.  Microdermabrasion, because it exposes fresh new skin,  is especially vulnerable to sun damage right after treatment. The whole procedure took about 45 minutes.  My skin looked beautiful– poreless, radiant, and  wrinkle free.  No splotches, no breakouts, just gorgeous.  On my  way home, I could not help catching glances of myself in store widows and mirrors. 

The Hydrafacial costs between $150 -275, depending on the number of steps.  Doctors recommend a series of 4-6 treatments, but with a single treatment I saw great results that persisted for weeks.  This is the “big night”  facial that I was looking for when my daughters got married.  Its also the facial of choice for those high school reunions type of situations when you want to rock the room.


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Since I started   my anti-aging journey I think that  the most frequent problem which my friends and  co-workers  shared with me  for was the freckles and sun damaged skin on their chest, AKA the  decollete.  Often their chests seemed permanently sunburned and a few had developed  skin cancers which needed to be surgically removed.  Polling my all-star team of dermatologists for a solution, I got a range of different answers.  Some suggested salicylic acid peels, while other suggested Fraxel laser, CO2 lasers  or skin lightening cream.  

Before I vounteered a friends’  chest freckles for science, I decided to try out some of these options  on a large brown spot on my chest.  First approach– a laser.  The series of photographs show  this bad boy freckle before and after treatment.  First photo show that  that its not  that  bad, but in a strapless dress or cami top,  it does look out of place. The second photo is the day after my freckle  met a laser.  The area  was red and aw  but the procedure was not uncomfortable and over quickly.    The  shiny stuff is Aquaphor for  healing.   I wore a bandaid over it for the first week to protect the area from infection and to protect my clothes from the  ointment.

The last photo is 10 days after the laser treatment .  I’ve still got some healing to do.  The brown spots that were removed on my neck and face  healed quicker than on the chest.   I wonder if chest discolorations are more resistant to treatment than those on other parts of the body.  This particular brown spot is in the medial line in center of the body and I know that this  area tends to produce scars  more easily.   I’m really glad that I’m testing out different methods on myself before I involved a friends’ freckles.  Have you ever treated your decollete?  I’d be really interested to hear what worked as well as what didn’t.

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I have been getting   quite a few questions about  acne past the teeneage years.  Its not really surprising  since  up to 50% of women over  25  have acne  problems.   And  while its not an anti-aging issue, the whole point of  getting rid of  age spots   and wrinkles is to look better– and getting rid of  breakouts certainly falls  under that category.

Question 1: I am 45.  Can I use my daughter’s acne soaps and gels to control  my breakouts?

Probably not.  During the teenage years bacteria in the pores  are a  major driver of breakouts.   In moms, not so much.   Benzoyl peroxide, an ingredient found in many acne  cleansers and treatments products, works by attacking these bacteria, and is a go-to ingredient in  many  acne products aimed at teenagers. When you’re  in the fabulous forties, bacteria play a  much smaller role and Benzoyl Peroxide  is much less effective.   For mom acne, a better choice would be products with salicylic  acid.  This is a beta  hydroxy acid  that acts by helping  empty clogged pores.  No clogged pores= no pimples.  Neutrogena  makes a full line of acne products with salicylic acid.  Make sure the  treatment  product  you use  has at least 2% salicylic acid  to get  a real benefit.

Question 2: What is hormonal acne?

In truth  hormone levels  can  promote acne at any age, but in some women,  higher levels of  androgen, a male hormone,  can be  causing hard to treat acne.  If you have tried all the usual remedies of benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid peels, LED light, diet and even Retin A and acne  still is  a problem, you  may well  have hormonal acne.  Best treatment is with  a series of birth control pills that contain both estrogen and progestin.  This combo works by  cutting down the androgen levels.  Two  well known brands  are Ortho Tri-Cyclen and Yaz.  I had this type of acne and had tried everything.  Finally my Dad who was a science writer  found a doctor  who specialized in this problem.  The hormone combo he prescribed  changed my life — and  I think that  using medical research  to deal with acne sparked   my interest in the science behind beauty care .

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