There are a wide range of ingredients used to formulate facial cleansers, so it is important to understand how cleansers work. Facial cleansers function in three basic ways:
- To remove surface debris, make-up and oil.
- To dissolve the bonds that hold dead skin cells to the surface of the skin.
- To prepare the skin to better absorb treatment and moisturizing products.
Most drug-store cleansers remove surface dirt and oil, but they do little to promote cell turnover and prepare the skin for the benefits of the products that follow. In fact, many cleansers leave the skin feeling either tight and dry or like a film of oil has been left on the skin, counteracting the effects of applying additional products. Additionally, they typically include fragrances, dyes, or oils that can irritate skin, leaving it red or sensitized.
A good facial cleanser is usually very lightweight, most likely a gel-based formula rather than a cream-based formula, and contains some concentration of either salicylic acid for oilier skin, or hyaluronic acid for drier skin. Cleansing is an important first step for all skin types, but for oily, acne-prone skin, it’s critical. The key to managing oily skin is gently exfoliating dull, dry skin cells that trap bacteria, reducing excess oil with salicylic acid, and neutralizing free radicals.
ZO Skin Health Exfoliating Cleanser does all of that and goes one step further by boosting collagen production. It uses encapsulated beads with Vitamin E—the most important anti-oxidant for healthy skin. For dry skin types, you’ll want a gentle cleanser that will not disrupt the moisture barrier. ZO Skin Health Hydrating Cleanser hydrates, rejuvenates, and uses panthenol to soothe, repair, and restore skin, allantoin to clean away dead skin cells and support cellular renewal, and hyaluronic acid for additional hydration support. Dirt, make-up, and premature aging down the drain—washing your face never felt so good.
Many people think that sensitive skin means that they have delicate or fine skin. In reality, sensitive skin is weak skin. No one is born with sensitive skin. Rather, skin becomes lazy from the use of too much moisturizer, and intolerant from the use of products with perfumes, dyes, and additives.
In order to successfully treat symptoms—redness, itching, and bumps—we have to improve overall skin quality and reduce the reactive nature of sensitive skin. The best treatment for sensitive skin is a program of skincare products with retinol, which strengthens and enables skin to renew itself. A skin-strengthening product such as ZO Skin Health’s Radical Night Repair is an important step toward resolving sensitive skin issues. Retinol increases cell turnover, which forces the damaged surface cells to slough off, allowing the new healthy cells to emerge. Because Radical Night Repair contains 1% retinol—a natural form of Vitamin A—it replaces what the skin has lost over time: the ability to stimulate the retinoid-receptor found on every cell.
The use of retinol, in some cases, can increase skin redness. Although it sounds counter-intuitive, that is why Radical Night Repair is especially great for sensitive skin. ZO Skin Health’s Radical Night Repair uses an encapsulated, time released delivery system that gently delivers the retinol load over a 6 to 8 hour period while you sleep. We recommend initially using Radical Night Repair only one night a week. This will gradually increase skin tolerance and will prepare the skin so that the treatment can be used more often. Long-term regular use of retinol will provide the skin with the vital nutrients it needs to be healthier and less reactive to the environment.
Products with high concentrations of retinol will cause peeling, and make your skin more vulnerable to UV rays, so be sure to wear a full spectrum sun protection!
Have you noticed that people are looking older these days? Could be that they’re not getting their Botox injections as frequently, or it could just be that they’re under a lot of stress—which shows up on the face as wrinkles, skin laxity, rosacea, and acne.
“The problem,” Dr. Obagi says, “is that stress increases the production of hormones that damage collagen and elastin.” Too much stress also takes the joy out of life—so you’re more likely to frown or scowl, thereby inducing wrinkles.
Take good care of yourself, get plenty of exercise, and try to get 8 hours of sleep per night. Thirty minutes before bedtime, be sure to apply skincare products with retinol—nighttime is the best time to repair your skin. You’ll feel better, and better about yourself, in the morning!
Sunscreens used to be the darling of dermatologists everywhere. Now it seems the love affair is over. People don’t use them as often as necessary and don’t reapply them as frequently as they should. We don’t blame the consumers—the problem is with the sunscreens themselves.
According to one leading consumer protection agency, 80% of sunscreens offer inadequate protection, make claims that are false and misleading, or cause accelerated aging. Some of the biggest brands are developing and selling sunscreens that, according to the Environmental Working Group, not only fail, but fail miserably.
So are you safe from a sunburn? Maybe. Sometimes you won’t know for years that the sunscreen that you trusted was inadequate. Don’t get burned!
|Here’s what to look out for:
Moisturizers that contain SPF
Over-promising and under-delivering
SPFs higher than 30
|Here’s what to look for:
Nature’s best photo-protective agent
A healthy tint and primer
A healthy habit
It’s almost May, which is Skin Cancer Awareness Month. Now is a great time to start a new and healthy habit that lasts all year long.
By removing the top layers of dead skin cells and activating the lower dermis (where all the action is), the texture, tone, and firmness of your skin can change. If your products and treatments only work on the surface, all you will get is a temporary cosmetic effect and no real change.
Think of the top layers of your skin as a dried sponge: if you get it wet, it will soften and plump; if you leave the sponge out on the counter, it will just dry up again—you will have a temporary change, but inevitably, the sponge will go back to its original dry state.
Similarly, with your skin, if you can get past the top layers and slough them off, you can open up pathways to deliver nutrients, antioxidants, hydration, and the essential building blocks to build support structures as in collagen, elastin, hyaluronic acid, and healthy new skin cells. The result will be skin that appears smooth, soft, firm, radiant—and the look won’t wash off.
Here is Dr. Obagi’s recommended approach to producing lasting changes and not just a temporary cosmetic cover-up:
- Seek the guidance of a licensed skin care professional.
- Start on a regular program of daily cell renewal, using a high concentration of retinol (natural Vitamin A).
- Accelerate resurfacing with more aggressive professional resurfacing treatments (microdermabrasion, laser treatments, etc.).
- Supplement your daily resurfacing regimen with application of nutrient-rich antioxidants and growth factors.
- Use targeted products to treat specific conditions: acne, hyperpigmentation, rosacea, tired eyes, etc.
- Use injectables such as Botox® to smooth the frown and Juvederm® to fill in the deeper wrinkles. Be sure to ask your doctor for his or her brand recommendations, though, as not all fillers are the same.
- Apply sun protection every day.
- Stay on track with proper coaching and support from your skincare specialist.
Unlike your body, your skin doesn’t go to sleep at night. It could even be argued that nighttime products are more important than daytime, because that’s when the skin repairs itself. In fact, there are many reasons why skincare products should be applied before bed.
- Nighttime products are different from daytime products, because the skin’s needs are different. During the day, skin is bombarded with wind, makeup, pollution, and sweating—all of which exhaust the cells. Why? Because the sole purpose of skin is to protect our bodies from outside insults and contaminants. So during the daytime, the skin is busy defending itself from these environmental factors. That’s why, during the day, we apply products that strengthen, hydrate, and protect with skin with antioxidants and UV protectors. At night, your skin is ready to prepare for another day. That’s the time when the cells renew themselves, and they need to be activated with key ingredients like retinol, surface repair agents such as ceramides, and anti-inflammatory agents such as botanicals. These all work together to create skin that is brighter, more even-toned, and hydrated.
- Many active ingredients in skincare products have a relatively short “lifespan” and are deactivated by sunlight. So the really important ingredients—the really good stuff—is rendered useless. By nighttime, there’s no residual value. Products need to be reapplied.
- During the daytime, skincare products are rubbed off, sweated off, washed off, and wiped off, or else completely absorbed. Moisturizers last only 3-4 hours. Medical treatments require application 2-3 times every 24 hours. At ZO, we’re proponents of saturating the skin with active and powerful ingredients so that it’s nourished throughout the day and night.
- Nighttime products are heavier, to restore essential moisture, reduce wrinkles, and repair the skin. They provide what we call barrier protection—to prevent transepidermal water loss (dehydration). In the morning, your skin is supple, revitalized, and smooth.
- The active ingredients used in nighttime products are better able to stimulate and up-regulate cell turnover so that fresher, brighter, healthier skin can emerge.
- Nighttime is a perfect opportunity for controlled release of active ingredients over a 4-6 hour period. It is also a good time to layer products which may not be possible during the daytime if makeup is to be applied overtop.
- Finally, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the importance of cleansing as a part of a nighttime skincare program. Many people take the short-cut of not removing their make-up before retiring. Our faces are never covered, they’re always exposed to all kinds of environmental pollutants. Cleanse your skin faithfully and thoroughly to remove the dirt and surface oils. It’s important for everyone, but critical for women who wear cosmetics.
You may be tired, you may be stressed. But nighttime skincare is important, and it only takes a minute.
If you’re concerned about wrinkles, and you know you can’t expect to solve all of your problems overnight, where do you start? Should you avoid sunshine and UV damage, reduce stress, change your diet, quit smoking and/or drinking, use better (or more!) skincare products, eat foods rich in anti-oxidants, take nutriceuticals, stay hydrated, exercise, have more facials?
Taking good care of your skin isn’t your only priority, so let’s address the worst offenders, as well as the best solutions.
- UV exposure. This one is the real culprit of aging. UVB rays cause burning, but UVA rays, which penetrate the skin more deeply, cause wrinkles, loss of elasticity, and photoaging. You’re exposed to UVA rays even when you’re inside—about 90% of UVA rays are transmitted through ordinary glass and windshields. Wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen (like Oclipse SPF 30) every day, and use skincare products high in anti-oxidants.
- Wake up your skin cells. Dormant skin cells exacerbate all of the signs of aging. You need to activate and stimulate them with high concentrations of retinol, which is generally considered the best topical anti-aging ingredient. In fact, scientists recently revealed that retinol (and other Vitamin A derivatives) is the only topical ingredient proven to provide anti-aging benefits.
- Kick the sugar habit. Too much of the sweet stuff—either as sugar or as fructose—is the most common cause of glycation and inflammation. It binds to collagen, weakens it, and then induces sagging and wrinkles. Too much sugar will also reduce skin circulation and damage the texture.
- Stay hydrated. Drinking 8 glasses of water/day is important for digestion, circulation, and excretion. For skincare, you need even more than that, especially after reaching age 40. Water helps hydrate the skin (thereby disguising wrinkles), flushes toxins from the skin (reducing acne), reduces dark circles underneath the eyes, and reduces eczema and psoriasis. Water is surely the most readily available, and the cheapest, skincare remedy.
- Huff and puff—but not nicotine. Cardio-vascular exercise is good for your skin. It improves the circulation and delivers nutrients. Plus it makes you feel better about yourself, and the radiance shines through.
- Relax. Many aspects of daily life can lead to increased stress, and that stress can cause or exacerbate a blotchy complexion, blemises, dullness, and acne and rosacea flare-ups. It’s impossible to eliminate stress, but you should help reduce it. Find time for yourself, exercise, get 7 hours of sleep a night, enjoy friends, practice yoga—whatever works for you.
It’s also important to eat a healthy diet, rich in anti-oxidants and Omega-3’s—the perfect excuse to have an ounce of dark chocolate. Peels, laser treatments, Botox, and fillers may be an option, but they shouldn’t be your first choice. What you do every day and how you treat your skin every night help to make medical procedures unnecessary. So take good care of yourself.
The story goes that if world-famous groundhog Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow on February 2 at Gobbler’s Knob, we’re in for six more weeks of winter. At the beginning of the month, there was no shadow in sight, and Phil says we can look forward to an early spring. That means it’s almost time to store the sweaters, pull out the beach towels, and put the top down. But what are you doing to get your skin ready?
According to Dr. Obagi, it takes hard work to get great skin, and preparing it for the changing seasons is no exception.
“Your skin doesn’t automatically adjust itself,” says the Dr. Obagi. “You need to do the initial work and it will respond.”
But you need to do the right work, which is why the first step to transitioning your skin from winter to spring is to amp up on SPF and cut back on moisturizer. The SPF will protect you from the harmful UVB rays your skin will be seeing more of in the months ahead, and less moisturizer will activate your skin cells, the key to Dr. Obagi’s healthy skin philosophy.
“Too much moisture trains the skin to rely on outside sources for hydration instead of producing it from within,” says Dr. Obagi. “In trying to counteract the dryness with a lot of moisturizer, you’re actually perpetuating it.”
Less moisturizer isn’t always received with open arms, but neither was Dr. Obagi’s healthy skin concept 30 years ago. Today, it’s mainstream.
The second step in preparing skin for spring is much easier to swallow. It comes in the form of berries—blueberries, strawberries, and blackberries. They’re all in season during the spring months and great for your skin. Each is high in antioxidants, which protect skin cells from the damage that increased sun exposure can cause.
Next up is your cosmetic bag. If not cleaned out regularly, it can be a breeding ground for bacteria and germs that will ultimately transfer to your face. Pay special attention to water-based products, which degrade and become useless after a year at the longest. Mascara has a 3-month life span. Anything without water—powder, eye shadow, etc.—can last up to two years.
Once you’re done trashing the expired products, thoroughly clean your brushes. Wash them with shampoo until the water in the sink drain runs clear. To make this process easier, keep a brush-cleaning spray like Brush Off handy and clean off your brushes after each use.
The final step for prepping your skin for spring is exfoliation. After months of exposing your skin to heated indoor air, the dead skin cells accumulate at the surface. According to Dr. Obagi, if your skin has seen signs of aging then your skin cells have already slowed down the natural sloughing off process, making your need for exfoliation even more urgent.
Your skin needs epidermal turnover, something ZO Skin Health’s Exfoliating Polish earns praise for. The round magnesium crystals and Vitamins A, C and E in the product put in overtime to banish dead skin cells.
“Collagen gets a boost and cells become active,” says Dr. Obagi of the exfoliation process. “When you put in the work it pays off. The reward is beautiful, healthy skin.”
Now you’re ready for spring!
It’s easy to spend money on skincare products. It’s also easy to waste money on skincare products. Your success with a skincare regimen depends not only on the products, but on your discipline (a cleanser and a moisturizer are not enough!), your patience (wash your face for two minutes, and don’t expect overnight miracles!) and your persistence (every night, whether you’re tired or not!).
Surely you know people who have joined a gym, and then never go again. Buying a skincare system, and then not using it regularly, is not much better.
Don’t buy ZO Skin Health products (or any other brand) if you’re not going to use them regularly and properly. You’re wasting the products, time, and most importantly, your money. Make good skin a habit. Accept responsibility. It’s up to you.
For Valentine’s Day this year, skip the hearts and flowers; go straight for the wine and chocolate—they’re rich in anti-oxidants. Anti-oxidants help prevent the damage caused by free radicals, and also help skin tolerate UV exposure and environmental pollutants.
But not all wine and not all chocolate are equally good, so make sure that you get the right stuff.
Chocolate—it’s good for you, so indulge a little!
- Dark chocolate is much richer in anti-oxidants; it has more chocolate liquor and less sugar. Eat dark chocolate whenever possible—it’s the milk, cream, and dairy products in milk chocolate that reduce its anti-oxidant value.
- Go for the good stuff. High quality chocolates are generally made from natural ingredients, and contain higher percentages of cacao and less sugar.
- Eat while you enjoy it. It will help reduce stress.
Wine—propose a toast to your health!
- Red wine. It doesn’t make any difference if it’s merlot, cabernet or pinot noir—all red wine is rich in anti-oxidants because the skin and the seeds ferment in the grapes’ juice during the fermentation process.
- Stick to one glass per day—120 calories is plenty. If you have two glasses, you’re getting more calories, but not more anti-oxidants.
- Moderate amounts of red wine may help protect against estrogen depletion.
- Sit down and enjoy your wine—especially with a good friend. Reducing stress is good for your heart and for your skin!
Happy Valentine’s Day—it’s a perfect excuse to enjoy some dark chocolate and red wine. Remember, it’s Doctor’s orders! For the other 364 days, be sure to also use skincare products that are rich in anti-oxidants, too!