Micro Dermabrasion Demystified

 So, now that we all know what goes into a successful chemical peel, I figured I’d take a moment and look into another popular skin care experience—micro dermabrasion.

 Luckily for me (and for you guys, too) a friend of mine is married to someone who works at a dermatologist’s office where they perform several micro derms a week, and he was able to get some 411 from her for us. Thanks Renee!

Despite what you may have been told, micro dermabrasion is NOT a surgical procedure. For the most part, most patients resume their normal activities and daily schedule immediately following the procedure. Down time afterwards is, for the most part, nonexistent. That’s good to know, because I know most of us are way too busy to even consider something that will put us out of commission for a few days! There’s no anesthesia involved, and you can drive yourself home right after…

And contrary to what some might have you believe, micro dermabrasion can be performed on all skin types and colors. Even people with sensitive skin can usually have microdermabrasion done without complication. (Of course, it’s essential to let your doctor know about any skin sensitivity before hand—you don’t want to cause a reaction with your moisturizers, sunscreens, or the procedure itself)

If you decide to have the micro derm procedure done, keep in mind that it will probably take a few sessions to get your skin to its optimal state. You’re also looking at periodic maintenance treatments—so keep in mind that while it’s effective, it’s certainly not the lowest cost treatment option available. Also, the more elasticity your skin has, the better you’ll respond to micro dermabrasion.

So now I’m interested in hearing from someone who has actually had the procedure done. What was it like? Did it help?

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What is a Chemical Peel?

More than once over the course of this blog, I’ve mentioned that some people use chemical peels to help them deal with the aftermath of acne scars. But what exactly is a chem peel?

 Honestly, I had no idea whatsoever how the process worked, except to know that you have to make an appointment with a dermatologist to get one done. Looks like it’s time to hop on the internet and find out how a chemical peel works. Here are the basics:

 Basically, a chemical peel is a body treatment technique  that’s used to smooth the texture of your facial skin. Using a chemical solution, the dead skin on your face is essentially burned and sloughed off—revealing a layer of “new” skin underneath. This skin is generally softer and less wrinkled than the layer on top.

 During the actual procedure, a doctor applies chemicals to your face in order to exfoliate it. The doc applies an acid exfoliant that’s stronger than what is available in topical creams directly to your face. The acid (trichloroacetic acid is generally preferred) burns the outer layer of the skin, which peels off, causing new, smoother skin to regenerate.

 Like any other procedure of this nature, there are major pros and cons to having a chemical peel done. If you’re suffering from major acne scars, they might be a viable option for regaining the appearance of healthy skin. It’s a fairly quick procedure, and it’s not difficult to find qualified dermatologists to perform peels.

 But it’s also important to keep in mind that it often takes several treatment sessions to reach your desired look, depending on how deep your cars are—and since they’re not exactly a cheap, this isn’t going to work for everyone. And from what I hear, chemical peels vary from mildly stinging to seriously painful— so make sure you ask lots of questions before you make that appointment.

 Has anyone out there actually had a chemical peel done to help with acne scars? If so, what was the outcome?

Acne Scars… WHY?

Yesterday, I helped a friend out as she tried to hunt down the best ways to deal with her acne scars. Which kind of left me wondering… where do those darned things come from, anyway? And more importantly, what’s the best way to keep scars from occurring in the first place?

 Everyone knows that you can end up with a scar after an injury or wound. Well, apparently the same goes for acne scars. When the dermis of the skin is damaged from acne blemishes, a scar is born. It all starts with an inflamed lesion, which is chalk a block full of oil, dead skin cells, and bacteria. When the inflammation gets to be too much for that pore, all of that gunk spills out into the dermis—destroying healthy skin tissue and leaving a scar in the process.

 In an attempt to repair the damage done to the dermis, your skin will form new collagen fibers. But, unfortunately, repaired skin never looks as smooth and flawless as before the incident. Deep breakouts and pimples that take a long time to heal also increase the chance of a scar forming.

 Inflammation is said to be the single greatest gauge of scar development. When acne gets inflamed, the chances of the bacteria spreading and leaving scars increases. The temporary discoloration of the skin will eventually fade away on its own with time. Talk to your dermatologist about ways to keep the inflammation from a breakout down to a minimum.

 The temptation to pick or squeeze at a pimple is almost inevitable, but don’t give in! Picking at the pimples damages the skin more, which leads to the scarring aftermath!!!

Dealing with Acne Scars

I’m almost not sure what’s worse… dealing with the drama that is acne, or dealing with those unsightly acne scars that get left behind after a particularly heinous breakout.

 I know I’ve said it a million times, but the truth is that even I have trouble keeping my hands to myself when it comes to a big bad blemish. It’s so tempting to squeeze it just a little…

 What’s more, there are people who keep their paws off and still end up with the occasional stubborn acne scar. My friend is one of these people. She’s been struggling with acne her whole life, and she’s tried every home scar remedy known to man—but to no avail.

 So when said friend called me the other night, on the verge of tears because she had a big date coming up, and had simply run out of options for treating her acne scars, I promised that I would help her find a more intensive plan of action. A couple of online hours later, I called her up to share my findings:

 The most popular method for dealing with acne scars seems to be laser removal. It seems to be really popular with everyone who tries it. However, bear in mind that it can get pretty pricey. If you’re one of those lucky few for whom cost is no object, then by all means, laser away.

 However, if you’re watching your bottom line, then you might want to look into the other most popular choice—micro dermabrasion. Because it doesn’t have to be done by a doctor, there are lots of clinics that will complete the dermabasion process for much less than the cost of laser removal. (Just make sure you do your research—this is your face we’re talking about, so you don’t want to leave it to just anyone!)

 Finally, you can also look into over the counter or prescription scar treatment creams. They are hands down the most affordable option, but not always the most effective. They may be a good starting point, before you decide that you need more in depth treatments.

 In the end, my friend went with the micro dermabrasion, and she couldn’t be happier. Stay tuned for a more in depth blog about each of these methods soon!

Acne and Pregnancy– How To Deal

Congratulations to one of my very best friends and coworkers, who is expecting her first bundle of joy!

 Wow… with all of these people around me breeding babies, I think I’m starting to hear the vague ticking of my own biological clock. But I digress… My gal pal just hit the 4 month mark, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen her happier. She is a wonderful person and deserves every moment of joy and discovery.

 However, a couple of weeks ago, her motherly glow turned into massive facial breakouts (Those hormones at work, I suppose…)

 As it turns out, most popular acne treatments aren’t safe for use during pregnancy. So, being the wonderful friend I am, I decided to help her investigate the best way to deal with pregger pimples.

 First and foremost, if you’ve got a bun in the oven, stay AWAY from accutane, tetracycline, and any medication containing female hormones. This is a big no-no, as it can lead to major problems down the road. But there are some tips for (safely) dealing with acne at this delicate time.

 Start by drinking plenty of water. You might not realize it, but if you’re retaining water because of your pregnancy, you might actually be dehydrating your skin cells, which can lead to the production of more sebum, and in turn, breakouts.

 Also, because pregnant women’s hormones are already going crazy, it’s probably a good idea to avoid overly processed foods and junk fare. Keep lots of fresh fruits and veggies on hand for snacking, and go organic whenever possible.

 Mild exercise will also help stimulate blood flow, which can control unwanted break outs, as well.

 Finally, keep your makeup brushes clean and bacteria free—you might just be reinfecting yourself by using something on a clean part of your face after it’s been contaminated.

Covering Up Those Blemishes!

Who among us hasn’t had a sudden break out on the day before a big event? Maybe it’s the stress or excitement of getting ready to party like it’s 1999 again, but there always seems to be a connection between my planner being filled and my face freaking out.

 Everyone wants to feel comfortable and confident in their own skin when it comes to a get-together, especially with all the camera clicks that seem to come with any kind of an outing. However, feeling supermodel chic is a little tough when you’ve got Mount Vesuvius on your nose.

 I have been dreading the big Fourth of July family reunion that’s fast approaching… mostly because I’ll be coming face to face with my always perfect cousin Lisbeth (and her lovely children… my goodness, dear when are you going to get started on a family?) and her obnoxious sister.

 But this year, I vowed, would be different from those nightmarish family functions of years past. I’m bringing my boyfriend (Much better looking than Lisbeth’s hubby… and unlike certain other peoples’ significant others—employed) for moral support. I was going to approach this get together with grace and aplomb. And, armed with a great concealer routine, an apparently flawless complexion to boot.

 So here’s the breakdown—

 First, apply concealer in a light, dabbing, circular motion on the acne blotches or other imperfections you’re looking to camouflage. I used a disposable facial sponge to blend in the concealer with the rest of my skin—avoid reusing sponges or brushes, or you risk spreading acne to other parts of your face. Make sure it’s not too thick, you can always apply more later but if it dries clumped on, it won’t blend in with the rest of your skin.

Next, apply your foundation in the same, light motion, but this time apply it all over your face to even the color and feel of your skin tone.

 Lastly, apply a light layer of oil free powder evenly all over your face using a large makeup brush. This allows any of the shine left behind by your concealer to be covered up, and gives you a finished even look.

 That’s it! Three simple steps to a deceiving complexion. Now… On to the reunion! (Wish me luck)

Sun, Sweat, And Right Field…

I love baseball season!

 Not just for the guys in tight pants, either. Nope, I genuinely heart a good baseball game. I’m one of those fans that get intensely wrapped up in the game, and feel like my little heart gets broken every time my team loses. (Which, as a Cubs fan, happens more often than not)

 Lately I’ve been experiencing baseball season anew; revisiting my high school years as I watch my brother and nephew play. Along with the great nostalgic memories, however, I also get to remember the awful summer  high school breakouts! Sports and the sun create the perfect playground for acne to crawl all over your body. This can be very uncomfortable no matter what time of year but it’s especially heinous in summer, when you want to show off your skin and enjoy the sun.

 As I watch my boys catch that baseball, I myself end up catching endless sweat drops after a long game.

 If there’s one thing I’ve learned from dealing with acne and a love of sports at the same time, it’s that keeping my skin fairly oil free and clean is essential to keeping the acne monster at bay.  

 Whenever I get home from a sweat fest, the first thing I do is grab a moist towel and oil-less soap to wash off my face. I’ve even taught my little brother and my little league playing nephew that the most important thing to do after removing their cleats is to get their faces washed!

 Then, of course there are sweaty uniforms covered in dirt, oil, and bacteria (all words that instill fear in the heart of acne sufferers worldwide). Keeping those things clean between games can be a hassle, but it’s an essential part of maintaining clear skin throughout those skin baring summer months!