April Empties

So sorry I have been absent for a while. I have just started a new position at another salon/spa and getting everything prepared has been quite stressful! Today I want to talk about my “empties” for the month of April.

Image Skincare Vital C Hydrating Anti Aging Serum 1.7 oz. 


Clearing up a Cyst

I personally have felt the wrath of cystic acne. Those painful deep papules that linger beneath the skin causing pain and embarrassment. Besides a cortisone shot at your dermatologists office (my doctor doesn’t even offer same day appts-sigh) I have pieced together some options to help those painful cysts dissipate faster.


1. Smile’s PRID Homeopathic Drawing Salve (http://www.drugstore.com/smiles-prid-homeopathic-drawing-salve/qxp13293)





Drawing salve uses ichthammol & arnica as well as other ingredients to help eradicate many different skin ailments-from bee stings to acne. It has anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-inflammatory properties making it a great treatment for acne.

I will be honest this stuff is messy and it doesn’t smell very pleasant. Wash the inflamed area, apply the salve then bandage. You can do this 2x a day. It really does help draw out the infection healing painful cysts in a  matter of days instead of weeks.


2.  Ice and Hydrocortisone


As soon as I feel a painful cyst forming, I immediately ice the area to help with inflammation and reduce swelling. It also provides a temporary relief from pain. I then apply hydrocortisone to further help with inflammation. The ice helps to thin the skin allowing the hydrocortisone to penetrate better.


3.  TCA Peel (http://www.makeupartistschoice.com/catalog/TCA_Peels-22-1.html)


Makeup Artist’s Choice is a great and inexpensive way to purchase at-home chemical peels. I always keep a 12.5% TCA peel on hand for the spot treatment of cysts. I apply to the infected area only with a q-tip. Almost immediately the cyst becomes inflated. Please know that TCA will cause the area to scab but I would rather deal with a scab then a painful cysts for a few weeks!

Somme Institute 5-Step Regimen

Back in March I was extremely lucky & grateful, winning a Somme Institute 5-Step regimen system from http://www.dermstore.com/. According to Somme Institute all 5 products are intended to work and improve all skin types and most skin conditions, including acne (raises hand) and rosacea. When asked how this system can handle the differences in all  skin types, Somme Institute’s Founder & Lead Researcher, Simon Erani, had this to say.

“Our products work for all skin types because we have highly-engineered vitamins in our products (polypeptides), which know where to go and what to do once they penetrate the skin. They go to the skin cell receptors that need them, which is different for each person. Our products are very different from other skincare products that have vitamin ingredients, though. This is because the oil soluble vitamins like A and E just sit on op of the skin because the molecules are too big. The water soluble vitamins like B and C oxidize and therefore are not effective. We know this because we tracked over 5,000 women using ultra-violet camera that sees 4mm deep inside the skin.”

The first product in the system is the Nourishing Cleanser . This cleanser  lacks any strong detergents so it is non-foaming. It felt like I was applying a serum to my skin, not a bad thing. I massaged the product into my damp skin in circular movements to breakup the day’s oil, dirt, and makeup. After rinsing and drying, my face felt squeaky clean without feeling stripped and irritated.

Second is Transport (step 2), the exfoliating product. What I love love love is that they use a chemical exfoliation. I am not a fan of mechanical exfoliation for a few reasons. They can exacerbate many skin conditions like acne and rosacea. I am also a big believer that scrubs can lead to micro-tears in our skin, which may not be noticeable at first but down the road the skin breakdown causing broken capillaries.  Transport contains pads soaked in Aha’s along with the patented MDT5. I did feel tingling when I first started using this product (I don’t know about you but I love tingling!) which eventually seceded. It did not cause my skin to become overly-dry or sensitive. My skin felt incredibly smooth and I noticed a nice glow.

Next is the line’s Serum (Step 3) which contains Vitamin C along with the MDT5. It does contain a stable form of Vitamin C, ascorbyl methylsilanol pectinate. My problem with antioxidant serums is that many companies include alcohol to help the Vitamin C penetrate the skin better. Good news is that Somme Institute does not rely on alcohol (it is omitted) instead opting to use Diazolidinyl Urea as a product enhancer. Vitamin C can quickly breakdown if stored in direct sunlight so I love that the bottle is opaque.  It’s just hard to tell when you’re running low. This is overall a very high quality Vitamin C serum. It’s not sticky, does not pile under makeup, and does not stick or cause reactions.

Step 4 is A-Bomb (great name!) which is a lightweight moisturizer that contains the MDT5.  When I first glanced at the product in the tub, I thought it looked like a thick, cream. After applying to my skin, I was however delighted to find that it’s not thick at all and applies very light. It dries very quickly without leaving my skin over-moisturized, greasy, or sticky

Step 5 is Double Defense, a lightweight moisturizer containing SPF 30.  I like the sanitary pump of the sunscreen and it does apply light, sinking in quickly as far as sunscreens go. It does contain chemical sunscreen ingredients. With presence of avobenzone, it’s sometimes hard to stabilize a sunscreen without the use of octocrylene. This contains octinoxate which can cause the avobenzone (Parson 1789) to become unstabilized. Is it useless? No but I would have suspected that octocrylene would have been included to make this sunscreen more photostable.

I have been using this kit since April and my breakouts have significantly reduced. My blackheads have eradicated and my skin does not feel as oily. I notice a more even skin tone and when I do break-out, they heal faster without leaving a scar.

Verdict: A



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Update on Cheek Acne

Well it’s been over 2 months since I stopped using blushes that contain red dye and I have to say that my breakouts have diminished quite significantly! I did purchase additional blushes that do not contain red dye. Most of these blushes are mineral based such as Youngblood Comsetics and Lucy Minerals. I also managed to score a cream blush from Vapour Organics. Again no red dye and even the pressing agents are non-comedogenic which is quite rare for a cream blush. If you have a favorite blush that is free from red dyes, please let me know as I’d love to find more.

Sebaceous Filaments

I just had a friend come to me seeking skincare advice. She explained that she was plagued with clogged pores but after “googling” was sure they were not blackheads or whiteheads erupted on her delicate nose. Hmmm…..the dreaded sebaceous filament. Sebaceous filaments are most often found on the nose, which produces excess sebum or oil. When the sebum oxidizes, which means exposed to air, the pore is filled and thus becomes a sebaceous filament. These clogged pores contain a “thread-like” substance if squeezed. I do not recommending squeezing since this can lead to scarring and broken capillaries, unless performed by a professional. It’s best to take a gentle approach in reducing sebaceous filaments. Wash with a gentler cleanser twice a day and follow with a toner containing glycolic acid. The glycolic acid will exfoliate dead skin cells while eliminating excess oil. A few to try are DDF 10% Glycolic Toner or Equate (Wal-mart) Rejuvenating Toner.

Dr. Jart+ Premium Beauty Balm SPF 45 PA+++

Beauty Balms, also known as BB creams, have finally made their way to the U.S. Highly popular in Asia, BB creams are a one-step, multitasking product that provide anti-aging, antioxidants, sunscreen, and foundation all in one bottle.

Dr. Jart is a dermatological cosmetic line in Korea. The Dr. Jart BB cream contains arbutin for brightening properties, titanium and zinc oxide for sun protection, glycerin for moisture and a bio-peptide complex for anti-aging benefits. It is important to note that this product is not formulated using sulfates, synthetic fragrances, synthetic dyes, petrochemicals, phthalates, GMOs, or triclosan.

I was excited to try Dr. Jart+ Premium Beauty Balm since I barely have time to brush my hair in the morning. The pump dispenser allows just the right amount of product to ooze from the sleek, gold bottle. At first glance, I worried that the one-shade-fits-all would be too dark for my Fitzpatrick type II skin tone. I blended the product into my face using the Sephora Collection Pro-Air Brush #55. The shade immediately blended into my skin tone providing a smooth, gleaming canvas. It did a great job at camouflaging superficial discolorations but I still need a concealer to cover inflamed acne and under eye circles. Since I am highly acne-prone, I obviously scanned the ingredients list. The only ingredient that could potentially cause break-outs is soybean oil, but since it’s not high on the list of ingredients, I was not or am concerned. I did use this product for two weeks before my review. I have not had any additional break-outs since using this product.



I would highly recommend this product, especially if you are seeking a multitasking product that provides light coverage.

Chemical Peels

I have to admit that I am a chemical peel queen. If performed correctly, chemical peels can eradicate many skincare issues from acne to hyperpigmentation. Peels are also relatively inexpensive compared to other treatments such as laser therapy and fillers. I know many people are confused when it comes to the different types of chemical peels so here are the most popular.

Glycolic Peel

Glycolic peels are the most popular chemical peels performed in spa settings. Glycolic acid is an alpha hydroxy acid that’s naturally found in sugar cane. It is produced synthetically in the clinical setting. Since the molecular size is quite small, glycolic has an intense penetration rate.  Glycolic peels can help improve fine lines, solar damage, hyperpigmentation and mild cases of acne.  Available in concentrations of 20-70 percent. A series is recommended for proper results.

Lactic Acid

Lactic Acid is another alpha hydroxy acid that’s naturally found in milk.  Lactic acid is a milder peel compared to glycolic acid and recommended for drier skin types & sensitive skin. It is great at increasing hydration levels while providing anti-aging effects.  Available in concentrations of 10-70 percent and again a series is recommended.

Mandelic Acid

Mandelic acid is yet another alpha hydroxy acid. Unlike glycolic and lactic, it has a larger molecular size so it can’t penetrate as deep into the skin.  It’s naturally derived from almonds and provides a very mild exfoliation. It’s great at treating superficial discoloration such as melasma. Since mandelic acid also contains antibacterial properties it can be used to eradicate acne that is more severe such as adult acne. Since it’s so mild, this peel is also used to tone down redness associated with rosacea. I personally use a mandelic acid peel on a weekly bases to help control my adult acne breakouts.

Salicylic Acid

Salicylic acid is a beta hydroxy acid naturally found in willow bard. It contains both anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties so it works well for acne. Since it’s oil-soluble, it can penetrate pores and decrease excess oil and dead skin cells. Since it’s bringing up debris from the pore, you may notice breakouts post-peel, also known as purging. It’s found in concentrations of 20-30%. You may notice a reddening of the skin after the peel for a few days.


Tricholoracetic Acid Peels (TCA) ,or as I like to call the “big guns”, is available starting at a 10% concentration and increasing in 5% increments. It’s imperative that TCA is mixed properly in a water-based solution so the peel can penetrate the skin. TCA works by method protein coagulation. This means that the peel is reaching the protein of the skin found , therefore TCA is a more intense peeling agent.  TCA is great for use on fine lines, rolling acne scars, hyperigmentation, and solar damage. You may have heard of Dr. Obagi’s Blue Peel, this is a TCA peel. TCA has a tendency to cause hyperpigmentation so it’s best that you find a reputable technician to perform this advanced peel. Downtime is mild-intense peeling, depending on strength use, that can last up to two weeks.

Jessner’s Peel

Dr. Max Jessner, a German-American dermatologist, created the Jessner’s peel. This medium-depth peel consists of resorcinol, lactic and salicylic acids in 14% concentrations saturated in an ethanol base. It sounds dangerous but it’s virtually non-toxic. This peel is best used to treat oily, acne-prone skin. This peel has the ability to reach a little deeper into the upper papillary dermis (2nd level of the skin). You may notice frosting with this peel, which forms as a sheet of white on the skin. This happens when the peel mixes with keratin in the upper layer of the skin, the epidermis. This peel produces more down-time that the other peels in my experience. You may notice intense peeling and a darkening of the skin for up to 5 days.

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