skincare basics

Should You Get A Facial?

Are facials necessary, and if so, what exactly do they do? We provide all the details, including critical pros and cons you need to know before you make an appointment!

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Women routinely ask us if getting a facial is worth their time and money. Facials are a confusing issue, primarily because of the endless misinformation about exactly what they can do for your skin. In fact, more often than not, women who have gotten facials give us mixed feedback: Some tell us they love how their skin looks, others see no change in their skin, and still others report that they’ve ended up with more problems than they had before they got a facial.

Hype & Hope

Aside from the hype and nonsense you read in fashion magazines and the pictures you see of women serenely wrapped in a towel with a mask on their face and cucumber slices over their eyes (cucumbers do nothing for the eye area), the reality is facials can be hurtful or helpful, depending on the person who performs your facial, what exactly they are using, and what they are doing to your skin.

Without question, facials are not mandatory for you to have beautiful, healthy skin, but for some skin types, and when done right, facials can be a beautiful addition to your skincare routine. On the flipside, when done wrong, they are a waste of time and can even damage your skin.

Benefits of a Facial

Many women who’ve had facials report that they get them because it’s a relaxing experience. But, ideally, a facial should be about skin care, not just relaxation. If the relaxing experience is the sole reason you get facials (meaning you don’t see much of a difference in your skin from the experience), then you’re better off getting a full body massage instead. That’s far more relaxing and it doesn’t put your skin at risk. Here is what a great facial can provide over and above a relaxing experience:

  • Thoroughly cleansed skin.
  • Softening and removal of blackheads and whiteheads (called milia) via manual extraction.
  • Temporary improvement of severely dehydrated skin with rich, emollient nourishing masks that begin restoring skin’s natural barrier function.
  • Plumping skin with a well-formulated moisturizer, which temporarily smooths out wrinkles.
  • Exfoliating skin with a gentle scrub, a light chemical peel, or a peel-off mask to achieve a smoother surface.
  • Help to fade brown discolorations, improve skin tone, and significantly reduce wrinkles with a professional-strength AHA or BHA treatment.

In addition to the above-mentioned benefits, a skilled aesthetician will not let you leave without applying a well-formulated sunscreen. The sunscreen should contain only titanium dioxide or zinc oxide as active ingredients to eliminate any risk of irritation, especially given that most women’s skin is more sensitive right after having a facial.

It’s important to keep in mind that what you do daily to take care of your skin is more important than what you do occasionally, but the combination of a great facial and a great skincare routine can have impressive results.

For most skin types a great facial should include gentle exfoliation with a properly formulated alpha hydroxy acid (AHA, active ingredient is glycolic or lactic acid) or beta hydroxy acid (BHA, active ingredient is salicylic acid) product. These are truly anti-aging, as they effectively reveal younger skin, even out skin tone, and build collagen. A facial also should include an antioxidant treatment, along with information on why antioxidants are so important for healthy skin. They not only repair damaged skin cells, but also help prevent further damage to the skin.

Your aesthetician also should be able to recommend the appropriate skincare products for you to use at home, and not hesitate to recommend brands or products the spa doesn’t sell. Of course, if healthy, younger-looking skin is your concern, your aesthetician should, above all else, recommend daily use of a sunscreen rated SPF 25 or greater!

What are Hydrafacials?

The latest skincare fad is the HydraFacial, which is essentially a milder form of microdermabrasion (a topical scrub procedure), combined with cleansing in a single process. The HydraFacial also claims to “infuse” serums and exfoliant ingredients like AHAs into skin and vacuum substances ("impurities") from skin.

Compared to a standard microdermabrasion treatment (which can be rough on skin if not done with great care), the level of abrasiveness from Hydrafacials is low. Although that may sound better, it means that the unimpressive results from microdermabrasion are going to be even less impressive with the HydraFacial! At best, microdermabrasion makes skin smoother and the inflammation swells skin so wrinkles and large pores are temporarily less visible.

Back to the “infusion” of serums and AHA/BHA exfoliants—few spas (none that we could find) were willing to disclose the ingredients used in this procedure. Given what we know of how such ingredients work, the whole process doesn’t make sense. AHA/BHA exfoliants at professional peel strength must be applied with caution and rinsed from skin. Since skin isn’t rinsed during the HydraFacial process, we suspect at best you’re getting a fancy application of a mild AHA or BHA exfoliant (that may or may not be at the correct pH to work properly).

The “serum” stage couldn’t possibly be more beneficial than simply applying your own serum. Besides, you need some ingredients to remain on skin’s surface to repair its barrier, strengthen its environmental defenses, and help mitigate the free-radical damage we get from being in an oxygen-rich environment or being exposed to pollutants. If everything penetrated past the surface, nothing would be left to protect skin’s first line of defense! Bottom line: Hydrafacials aren’t really worth your time or money. You’d get more bang for your buck investing in a cleansing brush such as the Clarisonic!

Collagen has no benefit when applied topically beyond moisturizing—even if you could force collagen into the deeper layers of skin, your body wouldn’t know what to do with it. Unfortunately, the only collagen that matters where anti-aging is concerned is what’s produced by your own body.

What a Facial Cannot Do

Many people look to facials to address a range of skincare concerns, from acne to wrinkles. A skilled aesthetician, using superior techniques and products, can help you address most of these issues to some extent, but facials are not cure-alls, and they absolutely do not replace what you use at home on a daily basis. Here is what a facial cannot do:

  • Eliminate acne.
  • Permanently fade discolorations.
  • Replace cosmetic corrective procedures such as Botox, lasers, or dermal fillers.
  • Treat rosacea or persistent redness (oftentimes the products and the amount of manipulation involved during a facial make sensitive, reddened skin worse).
  • Lift sagging skin.
  • Eliminate dark circles or puffy eyes.
  • Decongest skin and/or eliminate "toxins." (Skin cannot become "congested" and it doesn’t contain toxins that your body cannot eliminate on its own via the liver and kidneys.)

Good vs. Bad Aestheticians

A good aesthetician (and there are many) will know how to help repair and maintain a healthy skin surface. This is important for all skin types, but especially if you have reddened skin, rosacea, eczema, acne, or sensitive skin.

A well-trained aesthetician also should ask you detailed questions about your skin, including what you do to take care of it and whether or not you’re using any topical or oral prescription medications. All of these impact how the aesthetician will treat your skin, including what type of products he or she will use. Above all else, a good aesthetician will take every precaution to avoid causing needless irritation to your skin. He or she should know that irritation can cause a host of problems, such as the following:

  • Steaming skin, especially with abnormally hot steam, can worsen redness and potentially result in broken capillaries that show up as thin, spider-like lines.
  • Being too aggressive with extractions for acne or blackheads can make clogged pores worse and push acne lesions deeper into your skin.
  • Using essential oils, all of which may smell divine, but fragrance isn’t skin care. All fragrance, synthetic or natural, causes irritation, and irritation harms your skin.
  • Using products that contain irritating ingredients such as alcohol, camphor, or menthol. Even if you cannot see or feel the irritation, it’s happening beneath the skin’s surface. The result? Damaged collagen production and destruction of vital substances your skin needs to look young and healthy.
  • Using "facial rejuvenation" devices without proper training or a working knowledge of what the client can realistically expect.

Unless you are having extractions performed, a good facial should include a relaxing face massage and/or hand and arm massage. Learning how to perform such massages generally is included in the training curriculum at state-accredited aesthetician schools (often with a European influence). However, you should not get a facial massage if you have broken capillaries, rosacea, or sensitive skin. And, if you do get one, it should never involve pulling or tugging at the skin because the pulling and tugging can increase sagging by breaking down the elastin in skin.

What About Devices Used During a Facial?

Many facials include the use of hand-held devices or "machines" claiming to do everything from improving wrinkles, dark circles, and puffy eyes to dealing with acne, blackheads, and on and on. As intriguing as these options sound (and you will be tempted), for the most part they are either a complete waste of time and money or, depending on how often they’re done, actually have negative consequences for your skin.

The most typical treatment machines you are likely to encounter when getting a facial include oxygen-infusing machines, peeling devices, product-infusing (i.e. “microcurrent”) devices, and microdermabrasion systems. Here is what you need to know about these devices and their use.

Peeling devices (not including microdermabrasion machines) are hand-held tools with a hard metal edge the aesthetician scrapes across the surface of the skin, much like you might scrape a layer of frost off your car’s windshield. Sometimes these peeling tools are combined with another type of treatment in one machine, such as a device that uses the peeling step along with an oxygen-infusing option.

  • Pros: When used by a skilled aesthetician for the proper skin type (and used with extreme caution), a scraping tool can effectively exfoliate skin.
  • Cons: Device is "dragged" and pulled along the skin to exfoliate. It’s an archaic and potentially damaging way to exfoliate skin.

Product-infusing devices can be separate machines or can be combined with a peeling device for an all-in-one treatment. Product-infusing devices (often referred to as “microcurrent” devices) typically use either electrical currents or ultrasonic waves. Supposedly, the currents or waves open pathways between skin cells so the ingredients in the skincare products can go deeper into the skin to perform all sorts of miracles, such as lifting, firming, and reducing wrinkles. The sales pitch usually mentions that the more often you have these treatments the longer these pathways will remain open. As it turns out, there’s no substantiated research proving these machines work as claimed.

Even if these machines could "infuse" ingredients deeper into your skin, what happens if those ingredients go right past where they can do your skin the most good? Plus, there’s the potential risk of getting unwanted ingredients (like preservatives or problematic plant extracts) deeper into the skin, where their negative effects may be worse. Even beneficial ingredients like vitamin C or retinol might be more sensitizing if they are "pushed" deeper into the skin, rather than being allowed to penetrate the uppermost layers on their own.

  • Pros: None.
  • Cons: The claims for product-infusing devices are complete and utter nonsense. There is no published research showing these devices have any benefit for skin. Even assuming that electricity or ultrasonic waves could open pathways into the skin’s dermis (lower layer), doing so would actually damage your skin. "Pathways into skin" means the surface and lower layers of the skin would no longer be cohesive, but torn open, which would allow penetration by bacteria, pollution, and ingredients in skincare products that should remain on the surface, where they can be washed off.

Negative ion pore-clearing therapy (often administered by a peeling device or product-infusing device) doesn’t have any impact on skin, whether for opening pores or removing toxins or anything else having to do with skin. Negative ions cannot "resonate" or move through skin, whether they are in the air or generated by a machine, so they can’t affect the pore. It may be a surprise to you, but skin has no ability to excrete toxins.

Toxins cannot leave your body through the pores or through your skin. Real detoxification of foreign substances takes place in the liver. The liver changes a toxin’s chemical structure so it can be excreted by the kidneys, which filter it safely from the blood into the urine. Skin can’t modify toxins in any way, so the toxins can’t exit through the skin via sweat or other means. People often think sweating eliminates toxins, but sweat’s chief function is to cool the body, not eliminate toxins. Sweat can eliminate some by-products, such as urea, but these by-products aren’t the kind of toxins spa personnel are referring to. They usually are referring to chemicals in skincare products, processed foods, or air pollution.

  • Pros: Because both positive and negative ions can be inhaled and because negative ions are generated in abundance after a storm (when the air is calm and seems very fresh), we know they can have a relaxing effect on the body. There is some research showing that negative ions can have the same relaxing effect on the body when inhaled, even if they are mechanically generated, but this inhalation of ions has nothing to do with eliminating toxins or clearing pores of cellular debris that leads to clogs and acne.
  • Cons: Ions, whether positively or negatively charged, cannot open, close, or clarify pores, nor can they eliminate toxins; this type of treatment cannot improve acne.

Microdermabrasion, also called the Lunchtime Peel, Italian Peel, or Paris Peel (among other names), is a non-surgical skin-resurfacing procedure. A machine with a small vacuum-like tip shoots a jet of small, abrasive crystals (usually aluminum or magnesium oxide) onto the skin, and then vacuums them off the skin. Depending on the pressure and intensity settings (which are controlled by the technician), you get different depths of exfoliation. The stronger the setting, the deeper the effects, but that also means more risk to your skin. Despite the "peel" names microdermabrasion also goes by, technically, it is not a peel (like an alpha hydroxy acid peel), but rather a machine-calibrated way to scrub and polish skin.

  • Pros: Because microdermabrasion is an effective way to exfoliate skin more deeply, it can help refine pores, improve the appearance of acne scars, and help even out blotchy, thickened, sun-damaged skin.
  • Cons: It can be too harsh on skin when overdone or done too often, leading to collagen breakdown. Some skin tones may get dark or light patches as side effects from the treatment if it is too strong.

Oxygen-infusion machines apply a concentrated amount of topical oxygen to facial skin via a small tube hooked up to an oxygen machine. Your face is covered with a special domed mask to keep the oxygen from escaping. Before the oxygen is turned on, your face is prepped with a product-infused cloth or a facial mask. Once the dome mask is secured and the machine is turned on, it’s left running for about 20 minutes. Depending on the spa and the aesthetician, a special tool that delivers concentrated bursts of oxygen to key areas may be used during the treatment.

  • Pros: Although theoretically this procedure can improve circulation and promote healing, most researchers find this highly unlikely, especially if used on otherwise healthy, intact skin.
  • Cons: There is no research showing oxygen-infusion machines have any benefit for wrinkles or aging skin whatsoever. Oxygen cannot pass through skin unless it is delivered in a hyperbaric (pressurized) booth. The short-term impact can be an increase in free-radical damage, thus negating any positive results.

After the Facial, Get Ready for Sales Pressure!

The retail portion of your appointment is a major way salons and spas make money. Most aestheticians and support staff are expected to make monthly sales goals, so you can expect a fair amount of pressure to buy products. Although you may be tempted, more often than not the products are absurdly expensive, with equally absurd claims. It is also shocking how many spa products are packaged in jars, when so much research is available proving that many of the key anti-aging ingredients will not remain stable in this kind of packaging.

Also worth knowing: Spa staff often receive training from the product lines themselves, which, as you might expect, often is biased, based on a lot of hype and reinforcement of the brand’s absurd claims. An aesthetician who has been to the company-sponsored training sessions, and then clearly gone beyond that to learn about the actions of specific ingredients and devices, and about skincare products is one worth getting to know!

The Facial Decision

After considering the information above, the bottom line is this: A good facial can make you look and feel better than when you arrived for your appointment, but whether done once or routinely, facials cannot perform miracles, and they have their limits. Now that you have the facts, you will get the best results possible from a facial, not waste money, and feel great!

skincare basics

Is Mineral Oil Bad for Skin?

Is mineral oil the “Boo Radley” of the cosmetics industry? Find out why the spooky tales about cosmetic mineral oil aren’t true (and what makes it such a fab skin-care ingredient)!

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Sometimes things that are good can get a bad reputation that’s undeserved (not to mention hard to shake). Such is the case with mineral oil, a harmless and beneficial ingredient that’s used in many skincare products, but has been linked online and in magazines to all kinds of terrible things. It’s time to set the record straight on mineral oil, and why the negative rumors you’ve read or heard are simply untrue.

What Is Mineral Oil?

Mineral oil is clear, odorless oil derived from petroleum that is widely used in cosmetics because it rarely causes allergic reactions and it can’t become solid and clog pores. Studies have found mineral oil and petrolatum (a semi-solid form of mineral oil more commonly known as Vaseline) can assist in wound healing, and are among the most effective moisturizing ingredients available.

Though its association with petroleum has caused people to say mineral oil is bad for or ages skin, the truth is that petroleum itself is a natural ingredient that comes from the earth, and that once it becomes cosmetics- or pharmaceutical-grade mineral oil, it bears no resemblance to petroleum itself. Mineral oil used in cosmetics is highly purified and completely safe.

Environmental Concerns

Some people argue against the use of mineral oil, citing concerns that process it takes to extract it is damaging to the environment, and that it is a non-renewable resource. First, mineral oil is not a resource. It’s a byproduct of the petroleum industry. No one is drilling for oil to use for moisturizers. Mineral oil is extracted and purified from the petroleum refining process that occurs within other industries.

This is actually no different from how coconut oil (or other plant oils) is extracted, purified and processed into cosmetics. Thus, if you’re concerned with mineral oil as a “non-renewable” ingredient, you shouldn’t be. In fact, if this is your main concern it’s more helpful to stop driving your vehicle, heating your home, cooking with gas, traveling by airplane, using anything packaged in plastic (or typing on a keyboard) etc., all of which are primary reasons petroleum is refined. Obviously we’re not going to stop doing all of those things, nor would it be practical, but you get our point!

Is Mineral Oil Contaminated?

Mineral oil is approved for use in cosmetics (and a wide variety of other medical applications) globally, and in skin-care products is certified as either USP (United States Pharmacopeia) or BP (British Pharmacopeia). It does not contain impurities that harm skin in any way, nor does it contain any carcinogens (cosmetics-grade mineral oil is free of the compounds present in industrial petroleum).

Speaking of impurities, you may be surprised to learn that plants are subject to contaminants as well. Plants come out of the ground, with insects, worms, mold, fungus, bacteria, and other contaminates that must be purified (or removed) off before they can be put into a cosmetic, just like mineral oil. In fact, if you saw how most plants look (or smell) before they undergo this purification, we bet you’d never want to use another natural product again!

Can Mineral Oil Clog Pores?

Despite its greasy feel, mineral oil can’t clog pores as it cannot penetrate skin—its molecular size is simply too big to get into the pore lining where clogs happen! Instead—and this is good news—mineral oil remains on the surface of skin, where it does the most good—although those with oily skin may not like how products with a high amount of mineral oil feels or looks on their skin.

The Bottom Line

The claims that mineral oil is unsafe to use are unfounded and are perpetuated by cosmetics companies and people who use information about non-purified, industrial-grade mineral oil (which isn’t used in skin care) as a scare tactic. The truth is that the mineral oil you find in skincare products is perfectly safe, and even better – very good for your skin, especially if it’s dry or sensitive!

Sources for the information above: International Journal of Cosmetic Science, December 2012, pages 511–518; Medycyna Pracy, Volume 62, 2011, pages 435–443;
Journal of Dermatologic Science, May 2008, pages 135–142; International Journal of Cosmetic Science, October 2007, pages 385–390; European Journal of Opthalmology, March-April 2007, pages 151–159; International Wound Journal, September 2006, pages 181–187; Ostomy Wound Management, December 2005, pages 30–42; Dermatitis, September 2004, pages 109–116; Cosmetics & Toiletries, February 1998, pages 33–40; and Food and Chemical Toxicology, February 1996, pages 213–225).

skincare basics

Parabens: Are They Really a Problem?

Whether it is a cleanser, lotion, toner, blush, foundation, or mascara, without preservatives like parabens these everyday items would become overloaded with bacteria, mold, and fungus, making them harmful to skin, eyes, and mucous membranes. Good to know: parabens aren’t the enemy!

In This Article:

Whether it is a cleanser, lotion, toner, blush, foundation, or mascara, without preservatives these everyday items would become overloaded with bacteria, mold, and fungus, making them harmful to skin, eyes, and mucous membranes. However, as necessary as preservatives are to the safety of cosmetics, they’ve had their share of woes over the years. Today, parabens are generating buzz for allegedly being bad ingredients. But do parabens deserve their bad, media-fueled reputation? Let’s get to the surprising facts!

Should You Avoid Parabens?

In a word, no. Despite the media frenzy surrounding parabens, the published research and global cosmetic regulatory organizations are making that answer clear: parabens, especially in the small amounts used in personal-care products, do not pose a significant health risk. There is no legitimate reason for consumers to avoid cosmetic products that contain parabens. According to these studies, parabens are “fully metabolized before they enter the blood stream.” In a review of the estrogenic activity of parabens, the author concluded that based on maximum daily exposure estimates, “it was impossible that parabens could increase the risk associated with exposure to estrogenic chemicals.” We repeat: Impossible.

Parabens may come in the form of butylparaben, ethylparaben, isobutylparaben, methylparaben, or propylparaben, and in a misunderstanding of a 2004 research study, they were mistakenly linked to breast cancer when their metabolites (not parabens themselves) were detected in breast cancer tissue samples.

But not so fast! Soon after the panic over parabens began, the researcher who conducted the 2004 study (P. Darbre) responded in Journal of Applied Toxicology to the media-drawn connection between parabens and cancer with a clear statement, “No claim was made that the presence of parabens had caused the breast cancers.” In fact, as the considerable global research has exhaustively demonstrated, parabens are broken down, metabolized and excreted harmlessly by the body. That statement refutes the crux of the scare tactics being used to convince you parabens are bad ingredients.

Another cause for suspicion? Parabens are phytoestrogens, producing a weak estrogenic effect on the body, but whenever the effect of an ingredient is evaluated perspective is critical. That is, how do tiny levels of parabens in skin care stack up against other phytoestrogens that occur naturally in food or the estrogenic effects of commonly consumed medicines? In-vivo testing demonstrated parabens were 10,000 times weaker than naturally occurring phytoestrogens, such as those found in the foods and medicines we consume every day.

Parabens vs. Other Natural Ingredients

We often think of plants as being benign and cast suspicion only on synthetic ingredients (often misbranded as “chemicals” when in fact every ingredient is composed of chemicals), but human endocrine-disrupting sources have their origin in plants, such as marijuana, or in medicines such as acetaminophen. Despite what many “natural/organic” brands lead consumers to believe, parabens actually have a very “natural” origin. They are formed from an acid (p-hydroxy-benzoic acid) found in raspberries and blackberries. What’s ironic is that “natural” brands often have to resort to using more synthetic preservatives to avoid using parabens—a direct contradiction to their own marketing!

International Safety Assessments of Parabens

Wondering what the U.S. and global science community has found on this issue? Here are studies weighing in on the established safety record of parabens in skin- care products:

  • The American Cancer Society has concluded, based on its research findings, that the scientific and medical research does not support a claim that the use of parabens in cosmetics can increase an individual’s risk of developing breast cancer.
  • The FDA began studying the effects of parabens in response to the outcry of their potential estrogenic effect and link to breast cancer. The FDA found that parabens are safe for use in cosmetics, and it also says that, based on the weight of all the current scientific evidence, there is no reason for consumers to be concerned about the use of products containing parabens.
  • The Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety: Final Opinion on Parabens, which is the official statement by the European Union on the unequivocal safety of parabens in skin care, cosmetics and personal care products. This summary of decades of long-term and short-term safety data reinforced the EUs previous decision that parabens are safe in personal care products.
  • Health Canada, the Canadian FDA-equivalent, also finds that, “Currently, there is no evidence to suggest a causal link between parabens and breast cancer.”
  • The Personal Care Products Council, a US organization that reviews and assesses the safety of ingredients used in cosmetics in an open, unbiased and expert manner, consolidated more than 265 studies in The Journal of Toxicology that noted a women’s daily cosmetic regimen using products that contain parabens caused no adverse reproductive effects and confirmed the safety of parabens.

Other research has even refuted the long-held belief that parabens are among the more sensitizing preservatives in cosmetics, stating that “…these ubiquitous compounds have withstood four decades of extensive skin testing conducted by a variety of organizations, both North American and European, and now, it seems parabens have shown to be one of the least sensitizing preservatives in commercial use.”

Toxicology Letters reported in December 2013 that in references to parabens causing health issues “Overall, despite of 20 years of research a human health risk from exposure to low concentrations of exogenous chemical substances with weak hormone-like activities remains an unproven and unlikely hypothesis.”

Bottom Line

Ironically, parabens are naturally occurring chemicals. It’s ironic because many natural skin-care brands claim ingredients like parabens are dangerous, when in fact parabens have exhaustive safety data AND are naturally produced by vegetables and fruits. Foods such as soy, beans, flax, cherries, blueberries, carrots, and cucumbers produce parabens and other chemicals that mimic estrogen—to a much greater degree than the miniscule amounts of parabens used in skin care, hair care, and makeup.

Despite this fact, when was the last time you read a media report or received a forwarded e-mail about the breast cancer risk from cucumbers, beans or berries? In contrast, you’ve likely seen media reports or emails regarding parabens and their link to estrogenic activity. The truth is that on a global scale, there is an exhaustive degree of scientific and medical studies demonstrating the safety of parabens used in skin care and cosmetics. So the next time you read a story that vaguely indicates parabens are unsafe, think twice before you believe the hype and remember the facts–the tiny levels used in your personal care products are not harmful.

sun care

Are Tanning Beds Safe?

If you’re using or thinking of using a tanning bed, we strongly urge you to reconsider. You may not see the damage now, but you will eventually—and it isn’t pretty!

In This Article:

e1-tanning-bed-med-graphite

You may not see the damage now, but you will eventually—and it isn’t pretty! Tanning can lead to a host of problems, including brown spots, wrinkles, sagging skin, and most dangerous – skin cancer. Here, we lay out the risks and some of the startling statistics that we hope will make you think twice before hitting a tanning bed.


Love Being Tan? Think Again and Save Your Skin!

Without question, there is no such thing as a safe tan from the sun or tanning beds. ALL tanning other than from a self-tanner is a problem. Whether you tan a little or a lot, skin turning any shade that is darker than your natural skin color is hazardous to your health and for all intents and purposes is virtually identical to the carcinogenic effect of smoking a cigarette. Over time, the damage is certain and will be staring you right in your face.


Friends Don’t Let Friends Use Tanning Beds

Indoor tanning salons are a multi-billion dollar global industry people use because they believe it makes them look more beautiful. But beyond the financial investment you make every time you go to the salon, the cost to your skin’s long term health and appearance is staggering.

Tanning beds radiate the most damaging effects of the sun only inches away from your body. Even more distressing is that most people who go to tanning salons do so repeatedly and expose parts of their bodies that would normally not see the sun. Tanning beds are a surefire way to put your skin on the fast track to wrinkles, discolorations, and yes, even skin cancer—facts any dermatologist will tell you because they see the dark side of tanning bed use every day.


Tanning Bed Facts and Controversies

  • Dozens of studies have shown that people who use tanning beds have significantly higher rates of skin cancer than people who don’t use them. A recent meta-analysis found that in the United States, an estimated 400,000 cases of skin cancer may be related to indoor tanning.
  • Aside from skin cancer there is a 100% certainty that you will have prematurely aged skin from repeated use of tanning beds.
  • It is not unusual for women in their 20s who frequent tanning beds to develop advanced signs of aging most women won’t see until they’re well into their 40s—talk about a wake-up call!

Indoor tanning salons work vigorously to dispel notions of any link to this health issue. Shockingly, the owners of these salons actually promote false health benefits of their machines. One such deception is that tanning beds increase the body’s production of key nutrient vitamin D. Nothing could be further from the truth. In reality, tanning beds emit almost entirely UVA rays, but it is the sun’s UVB rays that help your body produce vitamin D!

According to the FDA, the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), the Skin Cancer Foundation, and many other medical and regulatory sources worldwide, tanning beds are nothing more than skin cancer beds, and should be made illegal. In fact, in 2009 the World Health Organization classified indoor tanning devices as Group 1 human carcinogens, putting them in the same class as plutonium, tobacco, and arsenic! The research is nothing less than startling.

For the mothers out there whose teen daughters are asking to use tanning beds, please show them this article; if that doesn’t help, point out all of the young celebrities who embrace their pale skin and wouldn’t dream of tanning!

body care

Treating Sun Spots Below the Neck + Other Body Concerns

Why let your face reap all the rewards of a wrinkle-fighting skincare routine? These tested and approved solutions that battle the signs of aging (especially brown sun spots and sagging) by targeting and repairing damaged skin.

In This Article:

Reducing fine lines, wrinkles, and discolorations (not to mention restoring a healthy glow) are skincare goals many people have. Yet many of us focus almost exclusively on skin from the neck up, not even trying to get the same benefits for skin elsewhere on our body.

The biggest signs of aging we see on our faces—brown discolorations, dryness, crepey skin, sagging—can appear on your arms, décolleté (chest), legs, and everywhere else, too. The good news is these concerns can be addressed by repairing past damage with a few targeted products whose prices won’t break the bank.


The Best Anti-Aging Defense is a Good Offense

Diligent use of a sunscreen is the most important thing you can do to slow the signs of aging—at any age—whether you’re 16 or 66. One area we often neglect when applying our daily SPF-rated sunscreen is our hands, but our hands get at least as much UV exposure as our face! Brown sun spots and crepey skin on our hands are dead giveaways of sun-damage accumulated over decades—how many decades is a fact that many of us prefer not to broadcast. Consider a sunscreen that provides serious moisture, proven antioxidants, and broad spectrum sun protection.


Solutions for Sun Spots Below the Neck

Keep your skin soft while targeting discolored areas with a daily exfoliant—but not a body scrub or loofah. Physical exfoliation will not lead to younger, more even-toned skin because it tears away at the skin, damaging collagen. Instead, use an AHA (glycolic acid) or BHA (salicylic acid) exfoliant to smooth and gently clear away dead skin, fade brown spots, stimulate collagen production, and soften dry, rough areas. Paula’s Choice RESIST Skin Revealing Body Lotion with 10% AHA is great for sun-damaged areas. If you also have breakouts or red bumps, go for Paula’s Choice RESIST Weightless Body Treatment with 2% BHA.


Retinol: Not Just for Your Face

Antioxidants and cell-communicating ingredients are among the superstars that keep skin healthier and younger. They accomplish this by warding off the free-radical damage that contributes to signs of aging, and retinol is one of the hardest workers of the bunch!

Anti-aging routines shouldn’t neglect your body. Target the skin below your neck, especially chest and arms, with a retinol-infused body treatment like Paula’s Choice RESIST Retinol Skin-Smoothing Body Treatment. Retinol works best when paired with other beneficial ingredients—that’s why RESIST Retinol Body Treatment contains such ingredients as glycerin, shea butter, evening primrose oil, and antioxidants like vitamin C.


Ditch Your Skin-Damaging Habits

When youthful skin below the neck is the goal, what you avoid is just as important as the products you use! Preserve that healthy glow and smooth, even skin by breaking these bad habits:

  • Get yourself out of hot water. A steamy shower or bath may feel nice in the short-term, but doing it too often or soaking too long will result in alligator-like dry, damaged skin. High temperatures do a number on your skin’s protective barrier, stealing the substances in the skin that keeps your healthy outer layers smooth and intact. Keep the water temperature warm, not hot, and don’t linger in the bath or shower!
  • Fragrance = “Eau de Dermatitis.” Many people select body-care products with their nose, but fragrance isn’t skin care—far from it. Skip the fragrance if you want to keep your skin at its best, whether above or below the neck. From your head to your toes, find out why fragrance-free products are always the best choice.
  • Clean up your diet. Eating the wrong foods (or not enough of the right ones) plays a significant role in more than just our waistlines. Too much sugar or inflammation-promoters, such as overly processed foods, trans-fat, and red meat, create a free-radical buffet that contributes to (You guessed it!) signs of aging. Read up on the foods to look for (and what to cut out) for healthier, younger-looking skin.


The Bottom Line (for More than Just Your Bottom)

Anti-aging isn’t just for your face—keeping the skin below your neck smoother, firmer, and more even-toned is as easy as picking the right products and treatments. Stick to recommended products that do more, like those loaded with innovative ingredients, and don’t forget the sunscreen! Keeping from the neck down, protected from daily sun damage is the #1 most important thing you can do to ensure smooth, healthy, spot-free, and—OK, we’ll say it—sexy skin.