The only online publication for women in Greater Cincinnati

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Did You Know?

99.7% of Americans believe a smile is an important social asset.
96% of adults believe an attractive smile makes a person more engaging to members of the opposite sex.
74% of adults believe an unattractive smile can lessen a person's chances for career success.
88% say they remember someone with an attractive smile.
50% of Americans are satisfied with their smiles.
Source: Dental Resources


From attracting a mate to landing a corner office job, your smile can be a key ingredient. But not everyone is blessed with perfectly-alligned, pearly white choppers, so Cincy Chic did some digging to find out more about the procedures and professionals out there in case you need a little help in the smile department.


The tooth whitening process eliminates discoloration and stains on the teeth, and can also brighten the natural pigmentation of the teeth. The degree of improvement will depend upon how severely the teeth are stained or discolored as well as the nature of the stains.

When teeth are brown or yellow due to coffee, tea, or smoking, stains will generally lighten four to five shades. Teeth that are gray due to natural pigmentation, antibiotics or birth controls such as Tetracycline will lighten two to three shades. Regardless, your teeth will be noticeably brighter after teeth whitening.

In an independent study conducted on behalf of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, the The most popular answer to “What would you most like to improve about your smile?” was "whiter teeth."

If, when you look in the mirror and see yellowed teeth staring back at you, your first inclination is to stop by Kroger and pick up some whitening strips, stop right there, sister! While there are a number of over-the-counter teeth whitening methods that make various claims, only a dental professional can recommend the most effective teeth whitening treatment for you. In addition, according to Dr. Mike Palmer of Palmer Cosmetic Dentistry in Crestview Hills, KY, the at-home delivery system is sub-par for most. "Those whitening strips only work if you have straight teeth," he adds. "You need a tray that's perfectly adjusted to fit the spacing and alignment of your teeth, and you don't get that with the strips."

The Zoom whitening system is an effective in-office option, performed by dentists such as Dr. Gibberman on Montgomery Rd. This procedure begins with a short preparation to isolate your lips and gums. The Zoom clinician then applies the proprietary Zoom whitening gel, which is activated by a specially designed light. Teeth regularly become at least six to ten shades whiter, sometimes more. A five-minute fluoride treatment completes the procedure. At Dr. Gibberman's office, this procedure will run you $525.

Other teeth whitening systems include Britesmile® and Rembrandt® Teeth Whitening.


Also reversing years of stains caused by foods, caffeine and tobacco use are veneers. According to Dr. Gibberman's site, special thin laminates, called "veneers," can often be used to correct discolored, worn down, cracked and chipped teeth. Veneers can also be used to close unsightly gaps between teeth. Stronger types of veneers made of porcelain, also called "composite veneers," typically last longer because they are bonded to the tooth.

An impression of the tooth must be made and a veneer molded by a lab technician. Because veneers require a small amount of enamel to be removed, they are permanent and non-reversible.

The process involves buffing the tooth, removing an extremely thin layer of the tooth to allow for the thickness of the veneer, an impression of the tooth, and final bonding of the veneer to the tooth with special cement. A special light is used to complete the process. This process will cost you $800-1,200 a tooth at Dr. Palmer's office.


With both traditional and no-preparation Lumineers, you can close spaces, instantly straighten teeth and whiten your smile with veneers. Lumineers are ultrathin veneers that require no shots, minimal or no tooth reshaping and no temporaries. At Dr. Gibberman's office, this procedure is approximately $1,000 a tooth.


A less expensive, but comparable, option to Veneers is what dentists call "bonding." By using dental composite resin bonding, your dentist can restore chipped or broken teeth, fill in gaps and reshape or recolor your smile.

Dr. Palmer says this option does offer an improvement to discolored, worn down, cracked and chipped teeth, but "it's the middle of the road option, and it may not be as attractive aesthetically." The price tag is more attractive though, running you only $200-$500 a tooth at Dr. Palmer's office.


Invisalign is a method of orthodontic therapy promoted as an "invisible" way of straightening teeth without using traditional braces. It, instead, uses a series of clear custom-fabricated aligners designed to gradually and sequentially move teeth to their desired positions.

According to Dr. Gibberman, here's how Invisalign works:

  • You wear each set of aligners for about two weeks, removing them only to eat, drink, brush and floss.
  • As you replace each aligner with the next in the series, your teeth will move little by little, week by week – until they have straightened to the their final position.
  • You'll visit us about once every six weeks to ensure that your treatment is progressing as planned.
  • Total treatment time averages 9-15 months and the average number of aligners during treatment is between 18-30, but both will vary from case to case.

At Dr. Gibberman's office, this procedure is $5,380. That's not so bad, considering fees average $5,413, and can go up to $7,625, for straightening teeth with traditional braces, according to Add about $500 for "tooth colored" ceramic brackets; and behind-the-teeth (called lingual or concealed) braces are an additional $2,000-$5,000.



According to Dr. Gibberman's site, bridges are natural-looking dental appliances that can replace a section of missing teeth. Because they are custom-made, bridges are barely noticeable and can restore the natural contour of teeth as well as the proper bite relationship between upper and lower teeth.

Bridges are sometimes referred to as "fixed partial dentures," because they are semi-permanent and are bonded to existing teeth or implants. Some bridges are removable and can be cleaned by the wearer; others need to be removed by a dentist.

Porcelain, gold alloys or combinations of materials are usually used to make bridge appliances. Appliances called "implant bridges" are attached to an area below the gum tissue, or the bone. The average cost of a single fixed bridge depends on many factors, such as how many teeth are being bridged and which type of bridges are needed. Typically, a dental bridge cost ranges from $500-900 per tooth.

To learn more about cosmetic dentistry, visit:

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While the issues that each of us deal with in caring for our skin are unique, there is a common problem skin care professionals often see in their practices at the end of the summer season: comedones (a.k.a. clogged pores).

If we have been good custodians of our complexions over the summer by using sunscreen and wearing hats, unfortunately these same skin-preserving habits often contribute to congested pores. It seems a shame that good skin care behavior is rewarded in this way, but the solution is easy, and as you will discover, prevention is even easier.

Congested pores occur, to some degree, in nearly all skin types and can occur almost anywhere on the body. They are most often seen, however, in areas where there is increased oil or sebum production. They sometimes appear as darkish in color — which is why they are often referred to as blackheads. However, they are not dark because they are filled with dirt. Actually, the material that predominantly constitutes the “plug” which forms in a pore is made up of oil and dead skin cells. The darkened appearance is the oxidized state of the oil as it essentially degrades in the follicle.

Why some pores become clogged while other do not, is still not entirely understood by medical researchers. They postulate that a change occurs to the cells that line the inner follicle, or pore, which prevents sebum from flowing as it would normally. There are some indications that the cells from the lining of the follicle are shed too fast and remain clumped together; this clumped cellular debris plugs up the follicle's opening.

Once the pore has become clogged with this waxy plug, it serves as a virtual dam, thereby disallowing the sebum to reach the surface of the skin. It is at this point that one of two things generally occurs; the bottlenecked oil that accumulates from the unseen supply line of sebum will either cause the plug to continue to grow or it will contribute to an increased alkalinity within the pore thus creating a hospitable environment for bacteria and the likelihood that a pustule will develop.

Clogged pores that do not become inflamed are less unsightly, but they can still contribute to a less-than-optimal appearance of the skin. Sometimes these hardened plugs of oil are so tiny that they can barely be seen during an unmagnified visual inspection, but their presence can often be felt as a rough and bumpy texture. When they become larger, however, they are quite apparent and should be removed. 

Removal is important because if an oil plug continues to grow, as described above, it can occasionally enlarge the size of the pore which will not shrink back even after the plug has been removed. The other compelling reason for speedy removal is, that the longer the comedone is allowed to grow, the more difficult it can be to remove. This is because the opening of the pore (when it does not expand) acts as much like the opening of a balloon in that it retains its shape while the body of the balloon/follicle continues to enlarge as it becomes engorged. This occurrence has often been observed by skin care professionals who have usually developed a number of skilled techniques for removing these pear-shaped plugs without damaging the structure of the pore.

The potential for permanent damage is why many skin care professionals insist that all extractions be done professionally. While this is certainly preferable, the reality is that most gals I know are going to give that clogged pore a squeeze anyway; for that reason, I would rather give everyone some pointers to minimize the risk of damage while still emphasizing that it would best to let a professional render the procedure.

Recommendations for comedone removal


1) Cleanse the skin

It is essential to remove all makeup and superficial grime before doing any extractions. A cream or milk cleanser is best because their lipidic nature can start the process of softening the congested area.


2) Exfoliate the skin
This can really make the process easier by removing any lingering dead skin cells that surround the pore opening. If you have acne or blemish-prone skin an enzymatic exfoliant that digests the bond between skin cells, as opposed to scrubbing them away, is best to limit the proliferation of bacteria.


3) Warm or steam the skin

Think of that plug like a candle that has become stuck to the sides of a cup. So, just as warming the wax will help to ease the candle out, warming the skin with steam, the application of warm moist towels, or a warm shower, will help to loosen the comedone and make its removal easier. At this point you can try one of the pore-cleaning strips currently available on the retail market. If they cannot successfully remove the comedone(s), proceed to step 5.


4) Cover your fingers

Most people make the mistake of not padding their extraction device (ie., your fingers) before trying to remove a sebaceous plug. This is not only unsanitary (even if you have thoroughly washed your hands but, your nails are likely to cut into the surface of the skin in the process.

5) Apply logical pressure to the pore

Seasoned estheticians know a number of tricks to coax stubborn blackheads out of hiding but one of the simplest is to get behind the plug. In other words, apply pressure slowly to the pore in an inward and upward motion. Think of stroking up the sides of a tiny volcano. You may even have to wiggle your fingers a bit as you go.


6) Repeat the procedure to make sure the contents of the pore are entirely removed

The removal of many sebaceous plugs is followed by the release of sebum that has built up behind the plug. It is important to remove this as well so that the formation of another plug does not immediately begin all over again.


7) Tone the skin

By using a mild astringent following extractions helps to tighten the pores and calm the skin. If you are prone to breakouts a toner with an anti-bacterial action from ingredients such as tea tree may be helpful. Tea Tree Oil, which can be purchased at most health food stores, can also be applied directly to the area where extractions were performed.


8) Apply a moisturizer

The cleansing and exfoliating procedure, while necessary, can leave the surface of the skin lacking in natural oil. This can trigger even more oil production as the natural protective mechanisms of the skin try to replenish that oil to prevent dryness. So, forgo “squeaky clean” for “dewy clean” and apply a moisturizer appropriate for your skin type.


Once you understand the factors that contribute to the formation of comedones, especially in this seasonal cycle, you will be able to take steps to preventing them in the first place. What I have experienced as a summer gardener (who protects her skin with both sunscreen and a hat) is a good illustration on all of the factors that conspire to create congestion. The molecules that enable sunscreens to be sunscreens have a large molecular size. When they are included in formulations they are often suspended by other molecules that are large enough to support them in this type of emulsion. Most of the ingredients best suited to this job are oily or lipidic agents. When thoroughly cleansed off of the skin at the end of the day they rarely contribute to the formation of comedones; but when their residue is left on the skin, they do seem to speed up the process. This cycle is exacerbated by heat which stimulates our skin to produce more oil and any physical elements (such as a hat band) that drive these oily substances into the pores. Since I am not about to stop wearing sunscreen nor hats when I garden, I can predictably anticipate the formation of congestion just above my brow line unless I take the following preventative measures:

  1. Selecting a non-comedogenic sunscreen. The ones formulated for the face are best.
  2. Ramping-up facial cleaning and exfoliating routines (see recommendations above).
  3. The bi-weekly to monthly application of a clay-based mask. Clay-based formulations absorb excess oil from both the surface and from inside your pores, to prevent accumulation.

But, whatever you do, don’t let the minor and easily remedied problem of clogged pores discourage you from using a sunscreen.  It is still the most profoundly beneficial thing you can do to preserve the health, function and beauty of your skin this season and for many seasons to come.


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Does the thought of getting a glycolic (sugar cane) peel make you cringe? It’s the word “glycolic” that garners such a response — it sounds so medical and serious. But actually, this kind of peel is the mildest of peel formulas and very good for the skin.

Cincy Chic
sent its favorite resident guinea pig, editor-in-chief Amy Storer, to Avalon Salon and Aesthetic Day Spa in Hyde Park to try out the glycolic treatment and “peel” back the scary skin covering the ins and outs of this beneficial procedure.

When Amy and I (intern Regan Coomer) showed up at Avalon last Tuesday, we weren’t exactly sure what Amy was in for. We were led past a row of women in barber chairs to the heart of the salon/spa by our specialist Gail, to a room that was at once relaxing and professional, with soft music playing, candles burning and a white sheet covering the bed.

Gail has 12 years of experience in the medi/spa profession, and loves what she does. “I’m all about helping people and making them feel good,” she says. “If I can make a difference for someone, that’s why I’m doing what I’m doing.”

Before beginning Amy’s peel, Gail told us about glycolic peels and their effects, and answered our questions. “Glycolic” refers to the alpha hydroxy acids used in the peel that result in smoother, younger-looking skin. Or, as Gail put it, glycolic peels “unstick the glue that holds the dead cells on.”

Depending on your age, your skin rejuvenates itself every four to six weeks, meaning that, at any given time, you have both live and dead cells on your face. The glycolic peel, Gail says, “Little by little eliminates dead cells,” making your skin look fresh and young.

All skin types can benefit from a glycolic peel, Gail says. “They’re good for everyone: young, old, those with acne.” For that reason, these peels are used to treat fine wrinkling, areas of dryness, uneven pigmentation and acne. The dead skin sloughed off by the treatment doesn’t come off all at once, Gail says, it slowly peels over a four-day period.

Reaping the benefit of the peel is an accumulative process, Gail says. You’d go five or six times, depending on the state of your skin, and you’ll be able to tell a difference around your fourth time. “About the fourth one is where you’ll go, ‘Hmm. Well,’” Gail says.

After the sixth visit, Gail recommends getting one peel a month to maintain the benefit you’ve gotten: “When you lose the sheen it’s times to come back to get rid of what’s accumulated,” she says.

Gail assured us that this type of peel isn’t painful, and causes very little redness and peeling, saying it’s possible to come get a peel on your lunch hour and go about your business right after. Depending on how strong an acid is used, someone getting this treatment may feel a tingle or slight burning sensation.

Then came the questions.

Gail asked Amy questions ranging from her ethnicity and skin care habits to whether there was a history of cancer in her family. These questions helped Gail decide which concentration of the glycolic acid to use. Avalon then stores this information for your next visit, saving time, and providing for a situation where the same person can’t give you your peel every time. Once the questions were answered, Gail got to work.

She had Amy lie down, and first prepped her face with an alpha hydroxy acid cleanser, which Gail assured us wouldn’t leave her dry. Then Gail applied a toner, or acetone-degreaser, which evens the surface of the skin. (She also turned on a fan to get rid of the acetone’s nail polishy scent.)

That done, Gail then applied the acid, which was left on Amy’s skin for a few minutes, with Gail standing over her the entire time watching her skin, making sure all was well.

The acid was then rinsed away, and Gail “extracted” a whitehead that was miraculously ready to be cleaned up as a result of the glycolic solution. If any acne exists before the peel, Gail says, the glycolic acid will actually speed up the life of the acne a week, so that in Amy’s case, a newborn blemish before the treatment was reduced to week-old status by the peel’s end.

After Gail extracted, she cleansed Amy’s skin a second time and then used (or activated, as it looked to me) dry ice to soothe Amy’s slightly-inflamed skin.

Then we were off. The procedure itself probably took only 20 minutes (after 20 minutes or so of discussion before) and cost $95. Amy was told to avoid direct contact with sun for the rest of the day and sent on her way.

As to the result? Amy was shocked and amazed at the effect the peel had on her blemishes (though there wasn’t much to begin with, believe me) and a day later was pleasantly surprised to find that her skin was very smooth and even.


To learn more about Avalon's peels and facials, click here or call (513) 533-1700.

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For a chocolatey indulgence without the calories, look no further than the newest crop of chocolate infused and inspired beauty products. These creative cosmetic confections possess the irresistible appeal of one of the world’s most decadent delights—chocolate; but, does the ideal ingredient for a bonbon belong in your bath beads? Well, according to the ISHI Elements, the purveyors of what they refer to as “skinfood lines for the face and body," there are some compelling reasons why chocolate can hold its own in cosmetic formulations. They cite the following in support of what they call: “ChocoTherapy” and its benefits:

  • Polyphenols, derived from the cocoa bean, are present in chocolate and have an exceptional anti-oxidant and anti-radical capability.
  • A constituent of fundamental importance to cocoa, especially from a cosmetic and aesthetics point of view, is theobromine, a substance of the methylxanthine group (to which caffeine also belongs), having excellent energizing, thermogenic and lipolysis stimulating effects.
  • Today the use of cocoa butter is widely established, particularly in lipsticks. It is also used as an emulsion for the face and body due to its excellent emollient and restorative properties.
  • So, if you’re tempted to sample a topical sweet, here is the list of chocolate treats that will cocoon you in cocoa from your head to your feet!



Philosophy's Double Rich Hot Cocoa (3-in-1 shampoo, body wash, and bubble bath) / $16.00 (

Pamper yourself with philosophy's double rich hot cocoa shampoo, shower gel and bubble bath—a must have for any chocolate lover.



Demeter's Brownie Fragrance / $5-40.00 (

The quickest chocolate fix now comes in a calorie –free spritz, which smells exactly like a freshly baked batch of brownies.

Amour de Cacao by Comptoir Sud Pacifique / $53.00 (

The manufacturer positions Amour de Cacao as “a delicate and original alternative for vanilla lovers.” With notes of Tahitian vanilla, unsweetened dark chocolate and bitter orange, this fragrance is much more sophisticated than a pure chocolate scent, but is still very sweet. The creators also point out that “Since chocolate is an aphrodisiac, this scent is ideal for sharing."



A recent survey of Chocolate Products by Good Housekeeping Magazine singled out two soaps (and I’ve added two more) as fun and economical picks for anyone who would like to add “a little something sweet” to their cleansing routine.

Fresh Orange Chocolate Petit Soap / $12.00 (

This yummy bar won the Good Housekeeping testers over with its soft texture. "It had the appetizing scent of an orange chocolate truffle and a luxurious lather that left you feeling like you had just had a treat."

Origins Cocoa Therapy Energy-Boosting Body Bar / $10.00 (

Another fun and foamy, ultra-creamy bar reportedly “felt great on the skin”. "A real treat to use," said one Good Housekeeping tester. Plus, the soap had an appetizing scent. The downside? Most of the HG testers were craving chocolate after using it.

Wildhaven's Fudge Swirl Bar / $3.50 

Since Wildhaven wanted a truly "all natural" product, they chose to use only ground cocoa to scent this soap. This is a very nice bar of soap, but the scent is very subtle. However, if you are looking for a nice, all-natural choice that will leave your skin soft, this is a good one to try.

Chocolate Soap for the Soul's Fudgesicle Bar Soap, $4.50 ( Also available in Chocolate Raspberry, this cute little bar is on a stick just like a fudgesicle! The site also has many other chocolate products too.


Body Scrubs


Issimo Relax! Chocolate Exfoliant / $31.00 (

This scrub was another Good Housekeeping winner, earning high marks for its long-lasting, fudgy aroma and smooth texture. Testers raved about how well it exfoliated and moisturized.

***For more scrubs see: More Chocolate Please


Body Moisturizers


Garden Botanika Chocolatté Body Soufflé / $32.00 (

This moisturizer was another top pick for the Good Housekeeping testers. Although the lotion may be pricey, it was reported to have moisturized better than any of the other brands tested. Good Housekeeping Tester, Jen Wysmuller, said this lotion had a delicious chocolate aroma.

Fresh Whipped Cocoa Truffle Body Butter / $12.00 (

This is a chocolate lover's dream. This nourishing butter gets its genuine deep dark chocolate aroma from authentic cacao extracts. It is also infused with Shea Butter and Grapeseed Oil, Vitamin E & C, plus Japanese Green Tea leaf extract as anti-oxidants, and unlike some body butters which leave a greasy finish, this one leaves your skin powdery soft.

Chocolate Soap for the Soul's Chocolate Mousse Lotion, $5 and $7.50 (

Also available in Chocolate Raspberry, this thick lotion has a luxurious, creamy texture–almost like body pudding!


Chocolate Soap for the Soul's Chocolate Mousse Bubble Bath / $5
Fizzy Kisses / $4.25, Milk Chocolate Bath / $4.50 & Bon Bon Truffles / $4.25

Whether you are fizzing, crumbling or pouring, these decadently fragranced chocolate baths are to die for.

ChocoLatté Bath Melt / $3.00 (

Melt in a warm bath with this yummy cube of heaven and let your skin drink in the luxury. It’s milky formula is naturally hydrating with the decadent scent of chocolate and coffee.

Spa Products


Just like their retail rivals, many professional spa products are taking the road to Candyland with chocolate treats like pedicures and body wraps. One local spa product distributor, Omaré USA, recently introduced a Chocolate Dream Body Pack. While its combination of chocolate and seaweed sounds weird, the formula offers clients a mineral rich indulgence that that leaves skin velvety soft, while it gently soothes the senses and nourishes the skin with its anti-oxidative effects. (Contact: for more information).

Another professional brand is Ligne Chocolat, which uses raw cacao to help slow down the natural aging process and fight free radicals. It has the aromatic and exotic scent of chocolate and comes in a variety of forms for professional and for retail (

***More Chocolate Please


If one-stop-shopping is your pleasure, check out these two websites: and Jaqua Beauty has not one, but two, collections of chocolate inspired products that range from $8-$32.00. Cocoa Buttercream Frosting and Mint Chocolate are a feast for the eyes, the nose, and the budget with pretty packaging and reasonable price points. And Chocolate Lotus may just be the motherland for chocoholic beauty junkies with more than two dozen products of the chocolate variety.

Finally, if none of the above sounds like the perfect recipe for you, check out the chocolate beauty products you can make at home at But, with bountiful beauty bargains like these, your time would be better spent baking brownies.


Bon Appetit!

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In case you didn't notice, we're in the dead of summer here. And this Cincinnati heat probably has you running to the nearest pool for a refreshing dip, or lounge chair to bask in the sunlight. Both of which, by the way, are raising havoc on your hair.

Rosina Luca, a stylist and the marketing director at Avalon Salon in the Hyde Park plaza, says now is the time when your hair needs a big drink of water the most. "With summer, comes swimming, wind, more exposure to environmental contaminants and changes to your hair color," she says. "For these issues, we recommend a deep conditioning, such as our Kerastase hair care treatment."

And you can't get these Kerastase treatments just anywhere, ladies. "We're one of three salons in Cincinnati to offer this high-end product," Luca says. Apparently, Avalon had to go through a lengthy interview process to even be considered for carrying the line at their salon. Touché!

Surprisingly, the treatment isn't a lengthy one. It only takes 10 minutes (and $35) for the express treatment, which lasts up to four weeks with the appropriate care. "What's the appropriate care?" you may ask. Luca says high-quality shampoos and conditioners (i.e., not the ones you buy at Kroger) is a start. Use high-quality (again, ix-nay on the roger-kay) protective gels and serums before using that curling iron or flattening iron. Also, keep your hair inside a hat when you go for a run, and keep your hair out of the chlorine at the pool.

To learn more about Avalon's exclusive Kerastase products, go here or call (513) 533-1700.

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As someone who has worked for more than a decade in the spa industry, I have a number of very good friends with similar technical skills, but my best “spa sister” is my friend, Cheryl. Whenever we get together for a few days of female bonding, (which we try to do at least once a year), we always end up working on each other. I know that our husbands harbor some kinky fantasies about mud masks and hot oil and pillow fights, but it really isn’t kinky at all. Since we both have solid technique, we are actually showing off for each other, with the prize going to whoever gets the other to fall asleep in the shortest amount of time.

The truth, though, is that you don’t have to have extensive training to give your best gal pal a perfectly lovely spa treatment. We are girls, are we not? So, most of us have a fair amount of experience in the art of home beauty rituals and that talent can easily be put to work in creating a tandem beauty session that will have both you and your “spa sister“ looking and feeling like you’ve each indulged in a day of beauty. Now, after reading the remainder of this article, you may find the spa-at-home concept more trouble than it’s worth, and that’s okay too. Almost every spa is set up for side by side spa-goers; but if you’re ready to spa at home, read on.

The spa agenda I am going to suggest can easily take place at home using what ever features (jetted tub, shower, etc.) that you may have on-site. The only challenge can be the massage table. While the treatments can be done on a traditional bed or on the floor, the angle in which the person (who is doing the treatment) has to work is always a bit awkward and hard on the back. So, if you must do it this way, limit what you are doing to short sessions and be mindful of straining your back. Another alternative, if you have one handy, is a 6-foot-long conference table or even a dining table. I have used these for demonstrations a number of times. When properly padded with blankets, pillows or a foam pad, they can be quite suitable.

One of the other tricky parts is figuring out who is doing what to whom and in what order. It’s no fun to get completely relaxed and then have to give a treatment. So, the best way is to stagger the progression. Below I propose a spa agenda for you and a friend as well as some variations that you can choose from. So, review the agenda together and select the options that are the best for the two of you. Then pick a theme, such as tropical retreat, lots of lavender or seaside serenity and gather treatment products, candles and music that fit the theme. Most of the things you will need can be obtained from your local spa, salon, drugstore, specialty boutique or health food store. I have included a list of a few Web sites where you can find multiple items and some great spa gifts too.
Supplies List

(See resource list for recommendations.)

Non-foaming body scrub/exfoliant OR scrub gloves
• Both can be found at a spa or drugstore
• Make sure the scrub is more of a body polish and not a shower gel type of scrub or make your own (see Beautiful Body Scrub recipe below)

Super Soaker Body Masque (see recipe below)
• Body Moisturizer
• Moisturizing Masque
• Massage Oil
• Essential Oil (optional)

Plastic sheet
• use one per treatment
• painting drop cloths from the hardware store will work or…
• mylar blankets (also called micronized foil) the kind you see marathoners wrapped in after a race—which can be found with camping supplies, work well and are inexpensive.
• Last resort…cheap (new) shower curtain

• 2-3 large bath towels, bath sheets or beach towels (per treatment)
• 2-3 hand towels (per treatment)
• Eye Pillow
• Scented candles
• Relaxing music
• Spa Snacks (such as: fruit, nuts, hummus and pita chips, veggies and dip, truffles, sparkling mineral water, herbal tea, fruit juice, mimosas, etc,)
• Large bowl for foot soak (the jumbo salad bowls from restaurant or party supply stores are good, cheap and more charming than a bucket)
• Small bowls for masque and hand soak

Body Beautiful Scrub

(Mix the following together for each person.)

This simple, sea salt based scrub is rich in minerals and moisture. Simply move the product around on the skin with light, long massage strokes and be sure to check on your pressure as you scrub your partner as this formula can be very abrasive.

Sea Salt
4-6 Tbsp. Sea salt is better than regular table salt because the natural minerals actually nourish the skin.


Massage Oil
4-6 Tbsp.  Use a plain, natural oil such as: Apricot or Almond.


Essential Oils

5-6 drops. This is optional.

Super Soaker Body Masque Recipe

(Mix the following together for each person.)

Body Masks are generally not available to the public because self-application is impractical. But a moisturizing masque for the body is essentially a thicker version of a moisturizer with a combination of ingredients that allow sustained penetration of the moisturizers during the relaxation phase of treatment. To make your own, simply combine the following individual products together.

Body Moisturizer

6-8 Tbsp.  Only use a water based formula, the more natural the better and unscented is best. Do not use a body butter.


Moisturizing Mask
3-4 Tbsp. An inexpensive clay-based facial masque is best.


Massage Oil
3-4 Tbsp. Use a plain, natural oil such as Apricot or Almond. Do not use a warming massage formula or baby oil.


Essential Oils
5-6 drops This is optional.

In a glass bowl, blend the product together using a small whisk or new 2” paintbrush. The paint brush can be used to apply the product as well or you can simply apply it with one hand. You may need to balance the ratio of products depending on the consistency and the amount needed. (FYI: A petite female will need about _ cup to get medium-thick coverage.)

Here is the easiest way to carry out the application:
1. After blending products together, warm them in the microwave or place the glass bowl in a larger bowl (or sink) of hot water. Test temperature before applying.
2. Have the person who is receiving, lie face up on the plastic sheet and cover up with a large towel.
3. Have them sit up and using either the brush or your dominant hand, apply the product to their entire back.
4. Have them lie down again.
5. Move to their right side and have them lift up their leg and place their foot down so that their leg is on angle. This will give you access to the underside of the leg. They can also roll over slightly which will allow you to apply product to the gluteal area on that side.
6. Have them place the right leg down and apply the product to the front side of the leg.
7. While on that same side, apply the product to the right arm and hand and then wrap the plastic around that side of the body.
8. Repeat the same procedure on the opposite side.
9. Before closing up the other side you can either remove the towel they are covered with or reach under it to apply the product to the abdomen and décolleté. (FYI: Better penetration occurs when the plastic makes contact with the skin so, they can opt to remove the towel when you leave the room.)
10. After wrapping them up in the plastic sheet, cover them with another towel (in case there is product on the outside of the plastic) and a heavy blanket or comforter
11. Have them lift up their legs slightly and slide a pillow under their knees.
12. If they are comfortable being left alone, you may simply let them relax, or to make the treatment even better, place and eye pillow over their eyes and massage their scalp or gently brush their hair.
13. After 15-20 minutes, remove the blanket or comforter and help the “receiver” sit up. Offer them a towel to drape with and open up the plastic. They may either massage in any remaining product or remove the excess with a towel.

Spa Sipper

This natural lemon tonic can be served hot or cool and is thought to be an effective and flavorful way to detoxify the liver, especially when used as part of a “juice fast”.

2-3 Tbsp. Fresh organic lemon juice with pulp
1-2 Tbsp. Maple Syrup—do not use honey
1 pinch Cayenne pepper
8 oz. Spring or filtered water


Mani & Pedi Supplies This Web site has fun products, spa pedi-party kits and oodles of recipes for fun foot treatments.


Spa Tea

Selections include: Peppermint Spa Tea and French Lavender

More spa-inspired beverages than you can imagine

They have a lovely pre-made spa gift set with bath salts and soap

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If you are in search of a fabulous facial your choices are nearly limitless. But have you ever wondered what training and qualifications your facialist has obtained in order to earn the right to smear products all over your face?

The majority of facials are booked by people who receive skincare treatments relatively infrequently, according to Spa industry statistics. These people are known as peripheral consumers, meaning that their indulgence of an occasional spa service is just that — an indulgence. While they certainly enjoy receiving facial treatments, these individuals are less likely to view the experience as an investment in their appearance or the beginning of a continuing professional relationship with the technician. And so, to them, the qualifications of their technician are not a significant factor in determining when and where they receive service; but, maybe they should be.

Over the last 10 years the spa industry growth has fueled an increasing awareness of the types of services salon and spas provide and this, in turn, has triggered an adaptation of many state licensing programs. It wasn’t that long ago that Kentucky had neither an esthetic nor a massage license. This is very good news for the consumer because, it means that that the bar has been raised and you can now be assured that the technician who renders your treatment is someone who has logged in a major chunk of hours to learn how to do that service.

When it comes to facials however, there are varied degrees of competency. So, if your goals when booking a skincare service are more ambitious and long-term than an indulging “day of beauty” you may want to scrutinize the credentials of your service provider a bit further.

Before I aggravate any of my very skilled salon and spa colleagues, let me also make this point: the licensure a person possesses is the minimum of what the state requires. So, the type of license, a technician is issued, becomes a minimal safety assurance, not a complete assessment of skill. If your service provider is passionate about what they do, they have probably participated in a number of educational opportunities that the state may or may not require, acknowledge and/or keep track of. If you are afraid to ask what credentials (in addition to their license) your service provider has … don’t be. Salon and spa professionals who have spent their time and money to achieve a level of excellence within their industry are usually more than happy to tell you about it.

Another area of potential confusion consumers may face is that the spa industry often applies vague and confusing jargon to describe their facial treatments. So, treatments rendered on the face or to the facial skin can be called a hundred different things. In order to determine who the best person for the job is, you may need to draw some distinctions between the types of facial services that are out there, and which one you would like to receive. Only then will it become important who your technician is and what their qualification are. Here are some general distinctions that need to be made between facial services:

Massage-Focused Facials

What’s the best part of a facial–the massage, right? Spa programmers figured that out too, and now in many states and in many spas you can receive a facial that is primarily geared toward relaxation and not skincare. These can be amazing treatments, most often found on menus at resort spas, but you will encounter them in the occasional dayspa too. These types of treatments can be rendered locally by either an esthetician, a cosmetologist or even a massage therapist. So, what’s the difference? Well, consider the focus of the treatment. If I had the opportunity to choose, on this kind of service, I would pick the massage therapist. If it’s all about the touch, who better than a touch expert? With the other two technicians they may or may not have a personal passion for this kind of treatment; after all they went to school with the intent of studying skin and hair, not massage.

European Facials

This is the traditional facial category that most people are familiar with. The use of the word “European” in a facial description is considered spa code for the inclusion of extractions. This is the procedure through which the debris that resides in your clogged pores is “extracted”, hence the name. When it comes to extractions, I want them and I want a real pro doing it. So, give me an esthetician for that job and ideally someone who isn’t fresh out of school. The quirky skill of pore-squeezing requires some finesse, and that, in my experience, only comes from…well, experience. This type of treatment is also more focused on skincare. So, if you want a thorough analysis of your skin and some recommendations for a home-care program you want someone who has achieved a modicum of esthetic expertise.

Facial Peels

The first thing you should know about this is that all peels are not created equal. The strengths of these professional products range from something that could be purchased over the counter to strengths that could disfigure a person for life. Once you get into the higher strengths however, the liability issues dictate that those products be used only in a medically supervised setting. In a salon or spa it is unlikely that anyone is working with something that strong but, you should always ask for the details. Most estheticians should have garnered some experience with milder products in school, however, the mid-level peels do carry some risks. So, if your facialist is suggesting a mid-level peel, I would want to be certain that I had a seasoned esthetician and also ask the following:

  • What are the risks, if any associated with this peeling procedure?
  • What are the benefits in general, and specifically for my skin, that I can expect?
  • What specific after-care is needed to achieve the optimal results?
  • What training or experience have you had with this procedure?

Medical Esthetic Treatments

These types of treatments are exclusively rendered in medically supervised settings such as medspas, laser treatment centers, dermatology clinics and plastic surgery practices. The interesting thing about the services providers within these facilities is that they could have one of several types of backgrounds. They could be nurses, who have additional esthetic procedures training, or estheticians who have received additional medical procedures training, or even cosmetologists who have pursued specialized training in medical esthetics.

The medspa industry’s unique position causes it to be scrutinized by both medical and cosmetology standards but, actual certification for some procedures still fall between the cracks. What the consumer can be assured of, however, is that the physicians who oversee the practice are ultimately carrying the liability of the facility. With the physician’s, and the facility’s, reputation at stake and procedures that demand a level of proficiency that exceeds most traditional spas, it is likely that consumers will find both esthetic excellence and cutting-edge techniques within the medspa setting.

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A bathroom should be one of the most relaxing spots in a home (bubble bath, anyone?), but stark lighting, lack of ambiance and small pocketbooks keep most bathrooms looking lackluster.

Turn your bathroom into a spa paradise and keep your wallet intact by utilizing these do-it-yourself bathroom-fixup tips.

Candle in the Wind
An effective (and inexpensive) bathroom spa maker is aromatherapy or scented candles. Aromatherapy can set the mood of your experience, whether you want to just relax, or be rejuvenated. Lavender is a good choice for a laid back afternoon, while the smell of peppermint will energize your spa experience. Other great scents to try are lemongrass, patchouli or jasmine. Set diffusers or candles in all nooks and crannies in your bathroom, and when it comes time to unwind, the combination of subtle flickering and heavenly scents will set your firmly on your way to relaxation.

Spa Décor
Another way to simulate the spa experience in your bathroom is through the look. Any spa you visit will be impeccably decorated with soothing paintings and pretty accessories, yet there's no reason your bathroom can't be the same. Pick a theme you like, such as Asian, Thai or Moroccan, and go with it, choosing everything from rugs and bath towels to knick knacks and wall decorations to suit. Or if you're not into matching décor, a woven basket filled with prettily decorated towels could make all the difference. Rule of thumb? Decorate your bathroom with any accessories that your eye finds soothing, and you're on your way.

Light Your Way

Other than candles, another great way to create your bathroom-turned-spa without breaking the bank is through alternative lighting. Kick those fluorescent tubes and overhead lighting to the curb; instead, find a nifty paper Chinese lantern to hang in the corner or hang a teardrop-beaded chandelier from the ceiling. The lighting choices are endless.

Yanni It Up
Once you've set the smell and look of your bathroom to fit your spa tastes, the next step is sound. Every sound you'll hear coming from every spa's speaker is most likely from the new age genre, which may sound corny. But let's face it: those otherworldly stringed instruments and subtle drums are soothing. So drop by your local CD store or cruise iTunes for the latest and greatest to be found in the New Age genre. (Enya is a great choice.) That way, once the candles are lighted and that vintage rug you found at the flea market are in place, you'll have the perfect relaxation soundtrack to complement your soothing décor.

Brew Up Some Good Stuff
Now that your bathroom looks like a spa, it's time to get down to some serious spa business. In other words, draw a hot bath, throw in some salts, and soak! Or lie back while testing out a sea mud mask or body butter. Give yourself a facial, exfoliating scrub or body wrap using your favorite products. Or, if you're talented at mixing things up yourself, try a few homemade beauty recipes, such as hair oil made of lavender and rosemary or an invigorating coffee scrub. Check out, or for more recipes and ideas.

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The increasing amount of skin cream choices combined with personal preferences about benefits, texture, smell and price makes it almost impossible to single out a short list of specific product “stars." So, instead of a dictated shopping list, I am going to highlight the current ingredients that, I feel, are the most vital to any anti-aging treatment plan. Search for them, and you will find a virtual fountain of youth.

Antioxidants: Vitamins A, C, E and Others
These ingredient super-stars work to neutralize free radicals unleashed by the sun’s UVA rays, exposure to environmental stressors or other triggers such as the body’s own on-going oxidative processes. This activity is often referred to as “free radical scavenging.” Antioxidants have proven to be effective at preventing or minimizing tissue alterations that could potentially lead to damage or mutation of cells which, in turn, leads to aging and disease. They are particularly important in repairing photo damage, which is why forward-thinking sunscreen manufacturers are starting to include antioxidants along with the traditional physical and chemical blockers in order to provide what is considered to be the most complete spectrum of protection. Any products that make the claim to slow or prevent the aging and/or repair the existing signs of aging should unquestionably have antioxidants in their formulations.

While the spotlight shifts to different antioxidants, depending on the latest research, the consensus among skin care professionals is that vitamin A, C and E, which have been proven in numerous studies to have anti-oxidative properties, are the key players. Vitamin A, in particular, is essential! Not a month goes by that I don’t receive additional data supporting the role of vitamin A (AKA: retinyl palmitate, retinyl acetate, retinoic acid, retinol) as a critical component of skin care.
Some of you may have tried early vitamin A-based formulations whose usage brought with it some major drawbacks including dryness, redness and irritation. Those disadvantages have now been addressed through formulas that use different forms of vitamin A which are milder and build up the skin’s tolerance gradually. Finding the perfect product match with vitamin A can be tricky though, so this is where you may want to enlist the help of a skin care professional.

Other important antioxidants include: beta-carotene, a precursor to vitamin A, selenium, superoxide dysmutase and alpha lipoic (thiotic acid); these too have all been studied extensively and show very positive free-radical-scavenging capabilities. A great deal of interesting research on all of these antioxidants can be found at

When searching for products with these ingredients, your best bet is to look for a formula that contains a cocktail of vitamins A, C and E, which have all been shown to have substantial benefits to the skin. It should also be noted that many of these ingredients, especially vitamin A and C, require very sophisticated formulations in order to deliver their payload of benefits. Much of what was formulated early on, when these ingredients were beginning to be used, was ineffective due to the instability of these agents.

So, if your skin care professional has products with these essential ingredients, ask them about the delivery and/or preservation and stability systems that are employed to guarantee efficacy. If you are simply label-reading, locate these ingredients on the packaging and then look for some additional explanation to support the touted benefits; and if you don’t see it—keep searching.

Exfoliants: AHAs and BHAs

Exfoliants are wonderful ingredients that can improve the skin’s texture, minimize fine lines, improve the penetration of other actives and temporarily even out skin tone. There are basically two types of exfoliants: enzymatic (which includes all alpha and beta hydroxyl acids (AHAs/BHAs) and acidic peels) and mechanical (which includes all abrasive or rolling-type exfoliants).

Enzymatic exfoliants literally digest the material that holds dead skin cells together so that they can be sloughed off the skin, whereas mechanical procedures either buff or roll away those cells. While mechanical exfoliants can feel good to use, better benefits seem to be obtained from enzymatic agents, which are sometimes used to boost mechanical formulas.

When speaking about exfoliants, particularly the enzymatic ones, the phrase “too much of a good thing” can apply. These ingredients have caused a fair amount of controversy within the ranks of skin care professionals who seem to fall into one of two camps: the over-zealous and the over-cautious. The explosion of exfoliating ingredients, specifically AHAs & BHAs, which occurred over the last 20 years, did increase the treatment options available to estheticians and consumers. But the unchecked use of some of these ingredients by both parties produced short-term benefits and some long-term problems.

Recent studies by the Cosmetic Ingredient Review Board* found that use of AHAs increased sun sensitivity by 13 percent overall, but in some persons by as much as 50 percent. This finding raises serious concerns about photoaging and the increased risk of skin cancer.

With this in mind, it is important to remember that the skin is our front line of defense against the environment and peeling off too much of that not only leaves the skin vulnerable to accelerated sun-damage, but also hampers the ability of the epidermis to bind moisture, which can leave the skin thin, dry and can even lead to hyper-sensitivity. When used properly, however, exfoliating agents play a very important role in skin care programs. So, when using AHAs and/or BHAs, the best policy is to use them with restraint and strive for the removal of only excess cells through a mild resurfacing regimen, and always wear a sunscreen.

Peptides: Matrixyl, Argireline and Dermaxyl

Peptides are one of the newest rock stars on the anti-aging skin care scene and they are stimulating many studies that have produced great results. They are highly respected for their ability to penetrate the skin and activate their target – increasing the production of collagen and elastin. Peptides, due to their small molecular size, have the ability to penetrate the epidermis, or superficial layers of the skin. This is where peptides really go to work, at the dermal-epidermal junction (DEJ), where the upper layers of the skin meet the deeper layers, or dermal matrix. Peptides stimulate the healing process and trigger the rebuilding of this dermal matrix by activating, or “turning on,” the fibroblasts. These fibroblast cells are directly responsible for the creation of collagen and elastin, which are the components of our skin that give it the elasticity and firmness of young skin.

There are, however, two slight disadvantages when using peptides. First, their inclusion in a formula tends to result in a pretty pricey product. These are cutting edge ingredients that took years to develop, and because most of them are proprietary, the laboratory that created them can maintain exclusive rights to manufacturing them — a similar scenario to what takes place with pharmaceuticals.

The other downside is that peptides take an average of 90 days to produce their positive effects. But, if you can be patient, they do work. One peptide in particular, palmitoyl pentapeptide-3 (Matrixyl), has been shown to decrease skin roughness by 13 percent, reduce wrinkle volume by 36 percent, and decrease wrinkle depth by 27 percent after four months of twice-daily applications on the face and neck.

Similarly promising results have been cited for another peptide, acetyl hexapeptide-3 (Argireline), which is being used as a topical alternative to Botox. Rather than paralyzing facial muscles, these peptides gently relax facial muscles by interfering with nerve signals. Even though the results are mild in comparison to Botox, products containing these peptides can cause a noticeable difference. Studies indicate a reduction in the appearance of wrinkles in the 16 to 31 percent range as well as prolonged results for those who do receive Botox.

Finally, Palmitoyl Oligopeptide (Dermaxyl) is considered by many as one of the most potent anti-aging ingredients available today. Daily use of products formulated with Dermaxyl produce reparative results similar to vitamin A-based products, such as the prescription product Renova, but with very little irritation.

Just like most people, ingredients often work best in combination. I have even heard them referred to as “synergistic soldiers” accelerating and building momentum as they produce a collective effect on the skin. It should also be said that, any single ingredient may not be the “magic bullet” your skin will respond to, which is why most experts agree that a broad spectrum of reliable and stable formulations of established and trusted ingredients is the best remedy to deliver a more youthful appearance to the skin.


2. Lipotec / An integral peptide treatment for expression wrinkles: Dr. Arturo Puig, Dr. José María García-Antón and Ms. Montserrat Mangues

* The Cosmetic Ingredient Review Board, is an independent panel of physicians and other scientists with no financial ties to the cosmetic industry, for the Cosmetic, Toiletry, and Fragrance Association (CTFA), the industry's trade organization in Washington, DC.

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Acne is aggravating at any age, but at a time in their lives when most women would be re-tooling their skin care regimens to address the signs of aging, they are distressed to find that controlling the outbreak of blemishes is their main focus. Adult acne has steadily drawn the attention of the skin care industry over the last decade. This refocusing is a natural response to the demand by the largest and most discerning block of consumers: the baby boomers. It is estimated that 20% of U.S. adults suffer from acne, and 6% carry that problem into their fifties. While younger clients might be somewhat resigned to the woes of acne, clients in the 25-45 year age bracket will tenaciously pursue a solution to this problem until it is resolved to their satisfaction.

What is Acne?

Acne is described as a disease of the pilosebaceous units that can occur at any stage in life. Found over most of the body, pilosebaceous units consist of a sebaceous (oil) gland connected to a hair-containing canal called a follicle. These glands are largest and most numerous on the face, upper back, and chest areas where acne tends to occur. The sebaceous glands manufacture the oily substance called sebum that normally empties onto the skin surface through the opening of the follicle.

At a glance, the pilosebaceous units appear to be part of the dermis or what is sometimes called the true skin, and in a way they are; but only in that they extend down into the dermal region of the tissue. While this is not depicted above, the follicle is actually lined with cells that are classified as part of the epidermis; and that is where the dysfunction begins.

For reasons still not understood by medical researchers, a change occurs to those cells that make up the inner lining of the follicle. This change prevents sebum from flowing through the pore as it normally would. Specifically, there are indications that the cells from the lining of the follicle are shed too fast and remain clumped together. Much like leaves that fall in bunches during a autumn storm and clog up your gutters, this clumped cellular debris plugs up the follicle's opening, thereby disallowing the sebum to reach the surface of the skin.

Another factor in the cycle of acne is the overall increase in sebum production. This abundance of sebum, both inside the follicles and on the surface of the skin, produces an ever-increasing alkalinity, thereby creating a hospitable environment for Propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes) the normally harmless bacteria that live on the skin. As these bacteria grow in the plugged follicles, they produce chemicals and enzymes that can cause inflammation, the skin’s characteristic reaction to disease or injury which is marked by four signs: swelling, redness, heat, and pain. When the plugged follicle can no longer hold its contents, it ruptures, spilling its contents onto the nearby skin.

This series of imbalances allows a number of different types of lesions to develop, including the following:

  • Papules: inflamed lesions that usually appear as small, pink bumps on the skin and can be tender to the touch.
  • Pustules (pimples): inflamed, pus-filled lesions that can be red at the base.
  • Nodules: large, painful, solid lesions that are lodged deep within the skin.
  • Cysts: deep, inflamed, pus-filled lesions that can cause pain and scarring.

What Causes Acne?

Most research seems to point to hormonal fluctuations as the underlying cause of the series of imbalances that trigger the onset of adult acne. Some researchers now hypothesize that this hormonal disruption is linked to xenoestrogens. Xenoestrogens are common chemical substances, found in numerous environmental sources, that mimic estrogens when they are assimilated into the body. Another theory, is that the surge of bio-chemicals that contribute to the development of acne, may be associated with the high level of stress that has been documented in women in this age group. According to Dr. Brent Boost, a Texas gynecologist who has studied the phenomenon and written a book on it, some 50 million women between the ages of 25 and 55 are affected by what he has termed: Hurried Woman Syndrome. He points to the hormone cortisol as the trigger for a host of health problems that stem from a decrease in natural immunity and can include: skin problems, thyroid dysfunction, and weight gain.
There is also a growing suspicion among skin care professionals that, in some cases, the stage is set for adult acne in our teens and twenties. Aggressive treatment of the skin during these years may engender an over-active cycle of sebaceous activity that continues into the future as the skin becomes “programmed” to protect and defend itself.

Call a Professional

Those who seek professional help in dealing with persistent bouts of adult onset acne will find a multitude of options both inside and outside of the medical establishment. For milder cases, a homecare program structured by a skilled esthetician may be an alternative to a physician’s prescriptive care or as an adjunct to medical protocols. In either case, the goal is the same: to improve the health, function and appearance of the skin. This is accomplished only when the dysfunctions, as outlined previously, are countered with a treatment program and products that initiate these actions which can serve as your checklist when discussing a treatment program and homecare with a skin care professional:

  • Inhibit the growth of the bacteria P. acnes
  • Normalize the skin’s pH
  • Increase cellular turnover, in order to:
  • Decreases the formation of microcomedones
  • Enhances the penetration of other beneficial actives
  • Increases the rate of healing
  • Refines the surface texture of the skin
  • Regulate sebaceous (oil) production
  • Reduce Inflammation

The Treatment of Adult Acne

Sufferers of adult acne should bear in mind that there are also a few age-specific challenges that are likely to be encountered during the course of treatment. As we age, the skin is much more vulnerable to the damaging effects of improper care than the resilient skin of our youth. The rate of skin cell renewal decreases, and this sluggish cellular turnover translates to a slower improvement in the superficial texture, as well as a slower rate of healing for acne lesions. Additionally, the natural thinning of the skin can not only make cystic lesions more apparent and more likely to produce scarring, but a thinner dermal barrier also becomes less efficient at binding moisture thus, becoming dehydrated.

Since the majority of acne care products contain ingredients that can be drying to the skin, this problem can be amplified exponentially with improper treatments, or treatments formulated specifically for younger skin. This decreased level of hydration in the skin substantially hampers the healing process and, thus, the visible improvement of the skin. So, to the list above I would add: Restore hydration levels. To be clear, we are taking about water not oil. The skin requires both for optimum function, and the presence of water in the skin is critical for both the short-term appearance and comfort of the skin but, also the long-term appearance, because of its role in the skin’s overall health.

A Final Word

Because of the increasing number of cases of adult acne, many new consumer products and pharmaceuticals have risen to the challenge of developing treatments that address the entire spectrum of care that is needed to treat the problem. So, if you think there is nothing new, think again, and contact a skin care professional or dermatologist to find out about the latest solutions and treatments. After all, at your age, you have earned the right to a beautiful complexion.

Caring for Adult Acne

Clean Skin Gently

You may be tempted to try to stop outbreaks and oil production by scrubbing your skin and using strong detergent soaps. However, scrubbing will not improve acne; in fact, it can make the problem worse by increasing the spread of bacteria. Esthetic professionals recommend gently washing the skin with a mild cleanser that does not strip the skin of its natural balance of oil and surface moisture. This protective layer is referred to as the hydro-lipidic (hydro=water/lipdic=oil) film. This invisible barrier plays an important role in providing the skin with a vital layer of protection against dehydration and the proliferation of bacteria.

Wash the face from under the jaw to the hairline, once in the morning and once in the evening. Avoid rough scrubs or pads as they can rupture the pustules on the surface of the skin, leaving traces of bacteria that may contribute to future lesions.

It is important to thoroughly rinse their skin after cleansing and tone with a mildly acidic toner. This will calm any irritation, close the pores and balance the skin’s pH. It is also beneficial to regularly shampoo the hair, as it can also contribute to the accumulation of oil in certain areas.

Avoid Frequent Handling of the Skin

People who squeeze, pinch, or pick their blemishes risk developing scars. Acne lesions can form in areas where pressure is frequently applied to the skin. Frequent rubbing and touching of skin lesions should be avoided.

Avoid Sun Tanning

Exposure to the sun darkens the skin, which can make blemishes less visible, lessen inflammation and make the skin feel drier for a little while. But the benefits are very temporary and can actually damage the specialized cells (called Langerhans) that are responsible for protecting the skin against free radicals, as well as infection. The sun also promotes aging of skin, and causes skin cancer. (Note: Many of the prescription medications used to treat acne can make a person more prone to sunburn.)

Choose Cosmetics Carefully

People being treated for acne often need to change some of the cosmetics they use. Products that are labeled as non-comedogenic (do not promote the formation of congested pores) should be used. Most mineral makeup work well for acneic individuals however, in some people, even these products may need to be avoided until the problem is under control.

Seek Professional Advice

A skin care professional can offer treatments that will deep clean the pores and a home-care program (perhaps the most critical factor in seeking improvement in the skin) that can be altered as the skin regains its normal function. Their knowledge and expertise will take some of the guesswork out of determining what will benefit your particular skin type and will speed the healing process.



From Tracee Cornforth, Your Guide to Women's Health. Reprinted from The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS).

Ladies Home Journal, Ending the Stress Epidemic by Lisa Collier Cool (August , 2003).