The simple truth about HYPER-PIGMENTATION.

One of the most common skin care concerns for especially women are hyperpigmentation – or some refer to it as brown marks/patches on their skin (facial area).

What are the most common causes?

  1. Age (and sun exposure) – Due to years of sun damage you see sun spots/age spots/liver spots appear on sun exposed areas as you get older.
  2. Hormones (and sun exposure) – Many women develop a type of hyperpigmentation called chloasma during pregnancy but this can actually appear any time during a woman’s life.  It generally only appears during the late 20’s and can progressively get worse.
  3. Inflammation (and sun exposure) – Some people hyperpigment as part of the healing process (inflammation) after an injury.  You often see this in acne sufferers.
  4. Other – for example certain types of medication/diseases and chemicals (like certain perfumes) can cause hyperpigmentation.

You will see that all these factors go hand in hand with SUN EXPOSURE.  So sun exposure is the COMMON DENOMINATOR.

What can you do about it?

Let’s BE REAL about this before I get into who you can see and what you can potentially do…

Hyperpigmentation in MANY cases is something that you will struggle with to a certain extent for the rest of your life.  You might be able to lighten it when doing treatments/using products, but the chances of it disappearing completely and staying away is very RARE.

So you need to learn to manage it.  What I mean by this is that you learn to:

  1. Properly protect your skin from the SUN (An effective UVB/UVA + anti-oxidant sunscreen and things like a hat when outside).
  2. You might decide to regularly go for a skin treatment that treats hyperpigmentation
  3. Use a product for hyperpigmentation together with your other skin care products
  4. Get good quality make-up if you feel you would like to camouflage it a bit during the day.

Hyperpigmentation is a condition that is understood by the medical and skin care community to an extent, and there are many products and treatments that claim to be effective.

But I once had a chat with a renowned dermatologist (from Johannesburg) who did his thesis on hyperpigmentatoin – and he told me that he believed it is something that is not yet understood 100% and there is nothing yet on the market that can claim that it will work 100%!

So my suggestion:

USE SUNBLOCK EVERY DAY!

Chat to your dermatologist/skin care specialist about your treatment and product options – BUT BE REALISTIC IN YOUR EXPECTATIONS.

AND FINALLY… Love yourself and your skin… I can promise you that you are more aware and self-conscious about it than anyone else!  Take good care of your skin and do what you can, but don’t obsess about it… Because it IS a difficult one…and best made peace with to a certain extent…and managed well.

Love Helene xxx

PS.  I am not going to talk about product options in this blog… Will have to cover it in another blog – so much to say but I want to keep my blogs short(ish) 😉

 

Urban escape at Luna Wellness

Luna wellness is an unexpected oasis in the middle of the suburb Kenridge. When I walked through the doors leading to the wellness clinic I was immediately transported to a world of warmth, relaxation and above all expert skincare. Stephanie (owner and therapist) has 12 years medical skincare experience and I felt it the moment she started my treatment.

There’s just something about the touch of a therapist who has years of experience and expertise in her field. So needless to say, I felt like I was in good hands!

Stephanie performed the US brand ISClinical’s award-winning treatment – the Fire and Ice Peel – on me. She started with a thorough cleanse with warm steam ensuring my skin was a clean canvas to do the peel on. The “Fire” step Intensive Resurfacing Mask – a 18% Glycolic acid in a creamy base – was applied to my skin like a mask and left to work for 5 minutes. This was only slightly stingy – I actually found it very comfortable yet active (which is what I wanted!) at the same time. She did warn me that when she was going to neutralise it with water it would sting – and it did. Nothing that was impossible to handle but it was quite burny on the skin. The cinnamon in the peel also gave it a distinct smell and a warm feeling on the skin.

Next up was the Pro-heal serum jam-packed with anti-oxidants – great for anti-ageing and healing. She then applied the “Ice” part Rejuvenating Mask of the treatment which was a gel like cooling and hydrating mask. This felt fantastic after the warm “Fire” of the peel. This was massaged into my skin – soooo relaxing! After she removed the mask she finished off with the Hydra-cool serum to leave my skin fresh and moisturised. The final touches included a moisturiser and all important sunblock.

My skin felt rejuvenated and fresh, it looked even toned and glowing – making me one super happy mommy! A couple of hours afterwards my skin felt tight – which I liked – that “pulling” feeling which actually makes me feel as if I had a mini face lift! My skin felt super smooth and looked really healthy and glowy for a couple of days after.

I am very impressed with this treatment and can highly recommend it to anyone looking for a more active treatment to treat ageing, pigmentation and a dull lifeless skin.

I will definitely be going back to Luna Wellness – for me it is super important to know that I am in expert hands as well as in a relaxing environment and you are guaranteed to get both at this lovely home based salon!

Read here about ISClinical.

Follow this link to find out more about LUNA Wellness.

You can get in touch with Stephanie at Luna Wellness on 072 436 2125

 

Blissful escape at Mona Lisa Skin & Body Bar

From the moment you step into Mona Lisa Skin & Body Bar in Camps Bay, you step into a mini world of pampering, indulgence and beauty.  Lisa-Marie’s clinic is situated in a private residential property in Camp’s Bay which makes this experience all the more private and relaxing.  A real escape from the hustle and bustle of the city.

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I had the privilege of receiving a !QMS facial which is one of my favourite product houses.  After a !QMS facial you can be guaranteed of a post-facial glow and your skin feeling great for days afterwards!  Have a look at my post on the !QMS Oxygen facial here.  Today Lisa Marie did the SK Alpha facial on me – her description of it sounded perfect for my dull post-winter skin:

This treatment is designed for dull, asphyxiated and tired skin conditions that will intensively stimulate, oxygenate and brighten the skin complexion while also firming and lifting the skin.
The treatment starts with a facial cleanse and gentle exfoliation with some steam.  The specialised mask involves the application of an anti-ageing collagen serum and a self heating mask and foil – to really warm up your skin and encourage penetration of all the good stuff 🙂
The plasticizing mask is the second mask which instantly cools and soothes the skin, leaving the skin looking glowing and smooth.  While the masks are doing their thing, Lisa-Marie spoilt me with some much-needed TLC – a divine hot stone foot massage, décolleté massage and file & paint on my toes using a gorgeous Morgan Taylor nail polish.
2015-09-18 12.01.00It’s now about a week after the facial my skin feels smooth and looks hydrated.  I love going to Lisa-Marie – she is passionate about what she does and is super thorough.  While you are with her – she is 100% focused on you and your needs and also offers a listening ear if that’s what you need 😉
I can highly recommend Mona Lisa Skin & Body Bar – I’ve already made my next appointment 🙂
Have a look at her website here
Lisa-Marie Marais
Health & Skincare Therapist
C: 083 676 1671
E: info@monalisabeauty.co.za
A: 189 Kloof Road, Clifton, Cape Town, 8001
Yours in wellness, Helene xxx

Check out these AMAZING promotions…

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The tranquil outside area

The tranquil outside area

Skincare ingredients that matter

With the overload of skincare products on the market, choosing the right skincare product can become extremely overwhelming and confusing.  I have come to the conclusion that in reality it shouldn’t be confusing – you just need to know WHICH SKINCARE INGREDIENTS actually MATTER and can have a positive impact on your skin.  Once you know WHICH INGREDIENTS YOUR SKIN NEEDS, you can choose skincare products accordingly! (And stop wasting your money on nothing more than “HOPE IN A JAR”…)

So which ingredients matter…?  I’ll try to keep this short and to the point 🙂

  1. ANTI-OXIDANTS:  e.g Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C); Tocopherol (Vitamin E); Co-enzyme Q10; Glutathione.  Why your skin needs anti-oxidants?  To neutralise all the harmful free radicals roaming around in your skin wanting to cause damage and skin ageing.antioxidants-donating-electrons1-300x288
  2. VITAMIN A:  e.g Retinoic Acid; Retinol.  Why your skin needs Vitamin A?  This wonder vitamin is one of the most well researched anti-ageing skincare ingredients.  Originally tested on adult acne in the 60’s, they soon realised the incredible effects it had on signs of ageing e.g. superficial lines and age spots.
  3. GROWTH FACTORS:  e.g. EGF (Epidermal Growth Factor).  Why your skin needs growth factors?  These awesome little “messenger molecules” help with cellular growth and differentiation. They jump in and help to repair the skin when damaged.  As we get older and our levels of naturally occurring growth factors decline, our skin becomes less able to repair itself.  Now we can apply growth factors topically and assist the skin in repairing itself from skin damage (ageing due to mostly sun damage).

Other ingredients that also deserve a mention are:  (I will keep the info for another blog post!)

  1. PEPTIDES
  2. FRUIT ACIDS
  3. ENZYMES

So my advise when purchasing skincare products would be to look at the ingredients and ask the right questions!

Yours in beautiful and healthy skin, Helene x x x

PS.  I like this picture showing the important skincare ingredients – have a look at the blog post here.

skin-care-pyramid

Sunblock – your cheapest anti-ageing skin product?

A respected medical doctor in the skin care industry recently made this comment, and it stuck with me.  He said that wearing a sunblock every day is your cheapest anti-ageing skin care product.  Some food for thought if you are interested in maintaining your skin health and youth.

Approximately 80% of the skin ageing that has happened in your skin is caused by UVR.  Physical signs of ageing – Facial lines, wrinkles, age spots, sagging and dull skin to name a few.  UVA and UVB are by far the biggest culprits when it comes to skin damage and ageing – so it is a VERY GOOD idea to wear a BROAD SPECTRUM sunblock.  See my post on this here.

Have a look at this shocking image of a truck driver exposed to the sun for years on end on the driver’s side.  It clearly shows how the exposure to UVR has AGED his skin significantly more than just chronological (genetic) skin ageing.

17ofktkxvteo8jpgSome practical tips:

  1.  Apply a liberal amount (some say at least a teaspoon!) every morning on the face and neck after applying your other skin care products.  Apply make-up over your sun protection product.
  2. Don’t fall in the trap of thinking that your make-up’s SPF is sufficient.
  3. If you have an outdoor lifestyle you might want to consider re-applying around midday.
  4. In general – try to stay out of direct sunlight between at least 11 and 3.
  5. Cover up with protective clothing, wear a hat when you can and put on those gorgeous big sun glasses for protection of your eyes and the delicate skin around the eyes.
  6. Don’t neglect your neck and décolleté as well as forearms and hands!

Have a look at this cool video showing how important wearing sunscreen is!

Love

Helene x x x

Melasma – 5 things you should know.

I have struggled with melasma for about ten years, this should make me a bit of an expert by now!  Here are my top 5 things you should know about melasma…

  1. The main cause of melasma is hormones combined with sun exposure. E.g you are on the pill and expose your skin to the sun.
  2. Your number 1 treatment is wearing a broad spectrum sun protection product EVERY SINGLE DAY.
  3. Epidermal melasma is easier to treat and generally responds well to superficial in salon treatments like superficial chemical peels.  Dermal melasma needs deeper treatments e.g. Certain types of laser and deeper chemical peels.
  4. Incorporate a product/s with ingredients proven to work on inhibiting several steps of the pigment producing process – MELANOGENESIS.  Follow a skin care regimen that will also look after your skin health e.g. Proper cleansing and hydration to improve/maintain a healthy skin.
  5. BE CAREFUL of things that can cause heat in the skin like hot yoga, saunas etc.  The heat can stimulate hyper-pigmentation.  Inflammation is also a big contributor to the worsening of hyper-pigmentation.

BONUS POINT:  Incorporate supplements like essential fatty acids and anti-oxidants into your supplement regime to tackle the problem from the inside.

Love,

Helene x x x

DOES WHAT YOU EAT AFFECT YOUR SKIN? – Part 1

This has been a question that’s been asked for years by clients as well as skin care professionals. I remember as a student, we were told that it’s an absolute myth that what you eat like for example junk food, dairy or sugar can affect your skin.

Well, luckily since then we have moved on and have been enlightened by new scientific research to answer the question that YES – what you put into your body every single day doesn’t only affect your body weight (which is the main concern for many of us), but also your general health and subsequently your skin condition too!

This is a very personal thing and something you will probably figure out through trial and error. I have known about the potential adverse effects of sugar and wheat on the skin – but I believe I haven’t experienced it first-hand until recently. In my previous blog I wrote about my recent skin care woes in the form of redness, dryness and swelling (eczema) and a bout of mild adult acne on my face. Short term oral and topical medication worked for a while, but like most short-term solutions, the problem didn’t go away. At the first glimpse of stress/some irritant/cold dry air – it came back. Now I feel ready and desperate enough to try to find a long-term solution. Unfortunately with many of these kind of medical issues – it is often up to you to do your own research and figure out the long-term solution that will work for YOU. This can be a frustrating but a necessary path in the pursuit of obtaining your optimum health and wellness.

I will look at 2 of the most common dietary villains: SUGAR & WHEAT – and the potential of causing and/or aggravating 3 common SKIN ISSUES: AGEING, ACNE & ECZEMA (Acne & Eczema: Part 2).

SUGAR

Let’s start by clarifying this substance called sugar. Table sugar (sucrose) is made up of glucose and fructose and some say that FRUCTOSE is the real enemy. So this will include ALL the thousands of products in our grocery stores containing sugar often disguised with over 55 different names:

sugarGenerally speaking, if the food (can you really call it food…?) comes in a wrapper/box etc. it is called processed food and all processed food contain heaps of hidden sugars. And I’m not only talking about your sweet foods, check out the labels on your savory items too.

Fruits contain natural fruit sugar called fructose. So now what…? Fruits used to be an occasional treat for our ancestors.  Try to see fruit as an occasional treat or even one a day if you need to. Eat the fruit that you enjoy, but remember that certain fruits like mangos, bananas and pineapples are the highest in fructose. I’m not going to even talk about fruit juice… I think most of us realize by now that fruit juice is everything but healthy containing as much sugar as sugar laden fizzy drinks.

What about CARBS like bread, pasta and rice?  All foods high in carbohydrates rapidly convert to glucose when eaten. This subsequently causes a spike in your blood sugar levels and an increase in the secretion of insulin by your pancreas into your blood stream. Insulin has been labeled the fat storing and inflammation causing hormone.

WHEAT

Wheat is EVERYWHERE.  Just start checking food labels on anything from sauces, soups, ready-made-meals, deserts and all your “obvious” CARBS (breads; breakfast cereals; crackers; biscuits; pastries; pasta; wraps etc.) – and you will notice wheat is very much THERE.

Dr. William Davis, MD – author of the international bestseller: Wheat Belly states the following:

Wheat, more than any other foodstuff is woven into the fabric of the Western food experience.

Modern commercial wheat production has been intent on delivering features such as increased yield, decreased production costs and large-scale production of a consistent commodity.  All the while, virtually no questions have been asked about whether these features are compatible with human health.

Documented peculiar effects of wheat on humans include appetite stimulation, exposure to brain-active endorphins, exaggerated blood sugar surges that trigger cycles of satiety alternating with heightened appetite, the process of glycation that underlies disease and ageing, inflammatory and pH effects that erode cartilage and damage bone, and activation of disordered immune responses.

THE EFFECTS ON YOUR SKIN

AGING

skin ageing

Sugars in your bloodstream can permanently attach to protein like collagen and elastin in our skin and rest of the body. This process is called GLYCATION and results in the formation of harmful advanced glycation end products (AGEs).

Prevention.com says the following:  The more sugar you eat, the more AGEs you develop. “As AGEs accumulate, they damage adjacent proteins in a domino-like fashion,” explains Fredric Brandt, MD, a dermatologist in private practice in Miami and New York City. Most vulnerable to damage: collagen and elastin, the protein fibres that keep skin firm and elastic. Once damaged, springy and resilient collagen and elastin become dry and brittle, leading to wrinkles and sagging. These aging effects start at about age 35 and increase rapidly after that, according to a study published in the British Journal of Dermatology.

Dr. Perricone also states that:  At the point of attachment between the protein (collagen) and sugar molecule, there is a small mechanism creating inflammation, which then becomes a source of inflammation in its own right. This inflammation produces enzymes that break down collagen, resulting in wrinkled, sagging skin. In addition to inflammation, glycation also causes cross-linking in our collagen, making it stiff and inflexible where it was once soft and supple. Glycation creates “free radical” factories known as advanced glycation end products (AGEs), which also increase cellular inflammation.

A study was done demonstrating the ageing effects of sugar:

Scientists from the Leiden University Medical Centre in the Netherlands and Unilever in the UK measured the blood sugar levels of 600 men and women aged between 50 and 70. Photographs of these people were presented to a board of 60 independent evaluators. What these evaluators perceived in this study was that those with higher blood sugar levels looked older than those with lower blood sugar levels. The researchers also discovered that with every 1mm/liter increase in blood sugar, the perceived age of that person rose by five months!

 Dr. William Davis states in his book that: Wheat can exert age-advancing skin effects, such as wrinkles and lost elasticity, through the formation of advanced glycation end products.

 WHAT CAN YOU START DOING NOW?

Look out for products containing anti-oxidants; retinoids and AGEs fighting ingredients.

Some of my personal favourite anti-oxidant skin care products:

2015-05-26 16.53.56 Skinceuticals Phloretin CF:

I love this anti-oxidant serum.  It has a super light, liquid texture and a few drops are applied onto clean skin in the morning before your moisturizer and sunblock.  This is perfect for my oily and hyper-pigmented skin.

2015-05-26 16.51.56SkinMedica Vitamin C+E Complex:

This amazing anti-oxidant has a velvety/silky texture making it more suitable for more normal to dry skin types.  It is also applied only in the morning under your moisturizer and sunblock.

F30030X-w1000Neostrata’s Skin Active Anti-oxidant Defense Serum

This affordable anti-oxidant serum has a liquid clear gel consistency and glides onto your clean skin every morning before your moisturizer and sunblock.  Oily skin types could find that they do not need an additional moisturizer.  Personal tip:  Don’t apply too much, if you do and then try to rub it in it can form little “bits” on the skin’s surface.

All products available online at Dermastore.co.za and at all Skin Renewal branches nationwide as well as other medical aesthetic practises.

But you can’t get away from starting on the INSIDE.

Here, five steps to eat right and keep your skin looking its youngest.

I hope this blog has given you some useful information on how SUGAR AND WHEAT can cause havoc on your skin in the form of AGEING, ACNE AND ECZEMA (Look out for Part 2 where I will discuss Acne & Eczema!).

I will be writing about my efforts to eliminate sugar & wheat in the next couple of weeks!

Helene x x x