I admit it. I'm obsessed with skincare.
I love the way makeup can make you feel but I also understand how important it is to take care of your skin. I spend plenty of time and money to take care of my skin with regular facials and a consistent skincare routine for my dry, reactive skin. I had noticed additional signs of aging recently and was concerned. I turned 40 last year and I could see things changing.
My main concern was rosacea on my left cheek which I inherited thanks to my Dad's German ancestry. The rosacea had gotten worse in that it was bright red and covered about the size of 2 quarters just to the left of my nose and arced up towards my brow. It was angry skin- often dry, bumpy and would flush bright red after a glass of wine. Definitely not a sexy look. It also made getting ready even longer since I had to apply additional concealer and foundation to cover the large red area. I was also starting to feel insecure about going around with little makeup which I prefer on those days I'm running errands or working from home.
After some research I found that IPL or Intense Pulsed Light was the right approach to address the rosacea and uneven texture on the left side of my face.
I had my first IPL Photofacial session a few weeks ago and have been really impressed with the results so far even after just one session. IPL is a great choice for improving the look of skin plus it is non-invasive and usually performed in a doctor's office or medical spa. IPL is done in a series of treatments for the best results.
What is IPL?
IPL is a laser used in different skin treatments with a handheld flashgun. The most common treatments are photofacials or hair removal. They can also be called laser skin rejuvenation, photorejuvenation or laser resurfacing.
What is IPL Used For?
The most common use for IPL is to lighten and remove discoloration. Think sun spots, brown spots on the face, neck, chest, hands or other parts of the body. It is also used for lightening and reducing redness including rosacea, dilated blood vessels and broken blood vessels on the face, neck and chest. It can help control flushing as in my case.
My experience was so easy and relaxing. I've had IPL for hair removal before which stung for sure but this first session to address my rosacea was very different and it didn't hurt at all. I found a plastic surgeon's office in Edmonds with an aesthetician I really wanted to meet because of her experience (12 years! ) and knowledge of skin treatments. After an initial consultation where we discussed my concerns and how IPL would address those concerns, I came back for my first session. Also, did I mention she is a makeup artist? Thank you, Universe.
First, she numbed my face using a cream since the IPL would take place mainly on my cheeks and this would reduce any discomfort. This took about 25 minutes for the cream to take effect. Once I was numbed up, she took me to a lovely spa- like room with a bed and a couple of machines set up. I laid down, got comfy and she began to run the handheld device over my cheeks and asked if it was comfortable for me every time she made a pass over my skin. It didn't hurt. The only thing I noticed is the bright light it emits but you wear protective eye goggles similar to those worn in tanning booths. The whole session took about 20 minutes and she sent me home with instructions to gently cleanse and moisturize my skin but to avoid the sun, skin peels or fruit acids on my face. Sunscreen was a must too. I was able to wear makeup right away.
After about a week I noticed the redness on my cheek had shrunk down quite a bit and wasn't flushing as much.
I can't wait to go back for my next session.
A recent poll of friends and clients confirms the biggest skin concern right now is hydrating dry skin. I'm not surprised since I've been snuggled up inside on the couch with the heat on full blast and my pup nearby. Seattle weather has served up several days at 20 degrees and I can tell when I look in the mirror. I see dry, itchy skin.
Staying moisturized, hydrated, and following a few simple lifestyle practices, such as using a humidifier, will allow you to ward off the dry skin during the colder months and keep your skin looking dewy and beautiful. I'll provide a full skincare regimen in my next blog post but let's talk first about what you can do to improve the situation.
Sleep With A Humidifier
Indoor heating on full blast dries out our skin quickly and I recommend sleeping with a humidifier in your bedroom to replace moisture to the air. Humidifiers are great for colds but also help your skin stay hydrated and supple.
Ditch the Hot Shower
I love a hot shower to warm up in the morning but hot water strips skin of essential oils so turn the temperature down from super-hot to warm and make sure to apply lotion, coconut oil or body butter to damp skin to lock in moisture. If you can shower less frequently to prevent drying out. I know, it depends on your lifestyle but it makes a big difference.
Hold the Soap
Choose a shower gel or cleanser specifically formulated for dry skin. Look for soothing ingredients such as colloidal oatmeal, shea butter and sesame oil. Everyone's skin is different so you can try cleansers with olive oil, argan oil or coconut oil. Regular soap will dry out your skin even faster if you regularly lather your whole body. I am currently loving the Aveeno Nourishing Body Wash with Fig and Shea Butter. It smells amazing!
The delicate skin on our face can only take so much stress and winter brings plenty of it. If you've read my other posts you know I love to exfoliate and advise exfoliating regularly during the summer months. This changes during the winter from 2-3 times a week to once a week. You still get smooth skin without damaging already stressed skin. Also, put down the facial scrub and switch to an exfoliating mask for an even gentler experience. I recommend the Andalou Naturals Pumpkin Honey Mask. You can find it at Whole Foods or PCC and it is effective and affordable. Another favorite is the Murad Pomegranate Exfoliating Mask.
Bring Back the Moisture
I will provide a full winter skin care regimen in my next blog post but let's start with the most important thing here. Hydrating your skin is a must during the winter months. Use a facial moisturizer every day and ditch the foaming cleanser for a cream or oil facial cleanser to prevent stripping of facial oils. Your winter face cream should have one or several of these ingredients: squalane, glycerin, shea butter, avocado oil, argan oil, sea buckthorn oil, coconut oil and sodium hyaluronate. Sodium hyaluronate is a favorite because of its ability to penetrate skin and hold onto water. Try the Better Skin Mirakle Cream with its unique blend of sodium hyaluronate, shea butter, coconut oil and sea buckthorn oil. Another cream that delivers is Drunk Elephant Lala Retro Whipped Cream; it delivers a steady dose of moisture throughout the day.
And last but not least drink plenty of water to hydrate from the inside out. Coffee is king here in Seattle but try skipping the afternoon cup and instead have a cup of tea which doesn't dehydrate like caffeine. Thanks for reading and up next I'll be sharing my winter skincare favorites for hydrated skin.
*Alicia Auer Beauty does not receive any compensation for product recommendations and is not a doctor. Her skincare advice is based on years of experience and research as a beauty professional. If you have skincare concerns it is always best to consult with a physician. Alicia prefers to recommend skincare products that are paraben free and preservative free whenever possible.*
Bridal Beauty Prep: Week by Week
You've been busy planning your wedding and there are many details to attend to. Consider your skin and beauty needs well before the wedding to have glowing skin on the big day. Before you even consider your makeup, focus on your skin first, preferably a year in advance.
Start A Year in Advance
1. Develop A Skincare Routine
To get your skin in top form, start a specific skincare routine about a year in advance. If you don't have that long before the wedding day try to adopt these good skincare habits as soon as possible.
2. Schedule Professional Facials
This is the perfect time to indulge in some pampering and work with a professional aesthetician to assess and improve your skin. Book monthly facials to refresh your skin. An experienced aesthetician will massage your skin, scalp and decolletage to stimulate blood circulation and keep your skin looking healthy. This is a great time to address clogged pores and your aesthetician can extract the dirt from pores at your request. Only a professional should do this as if you try it at home it can cause scarring. If monthly facials are outside your budget opt for at least three in the 6 months before your wedding.
3. Use A Skin-Specific Moisturizer
Not every moisturizer works for everyone. You'll want to look for one that addresses your specific skin type. Even oily skin needs moisture to balance and hydrate. A gel moisturizer works well for oily skin. Look for ingredients like hyaluronic acid or ferulic acid, both of which help your skin maintain water. Dry skin benefits from moisturizers with hyaluronic acid, glycerin and squalane. Dry skin craves moisture. If your skin is prone to breakouts, choose a moisturizer that's noncomedogenic. The bottle should have this noted. Sensitive skin will benefit from a fragrance-free moisturizer and soothing ingredients such as raspberry extract and oatmeal.
4. Reduce Sunspots and Scarring with a Glycolic Peel
It may sound scary but a peel is another way to exfoliate skin with fruit acids. They are gentle enough for most skin types and you can request one designed for sensitive skin if your skin is more reactive. Glycolic Acid is an alpha- hydroxy acid that breaks down old, dead skin and a peel will slough off dead skin and bring new, fresh skin to the surface. This is a must for even skin that will make your makeup artist's job much easier since there is less to cover and your makeup will apply evenly. To make the most of these treatments book a series of peels in advance about two weeks apart. If you have a full year before the wedding book twice in fall and twice in the spring. Avoid a summer peel if you can since skin is more susceptible to burning this time of year. Another great option if peels are outside your beauty budget is to invest in an effective glycolic mask or peel pads well in advance of the wedding. Consider Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Peel Pads or Murad Pomegranate Exfoliating Mask.
4-6 Months Before the Wedding
1. Self-Care is Key
Take care of yourself and boost your beauty efforts with regular exercise, getting plenty of sleep, drinking a lot of water and eating a well-balanced diet. Don't try any new products or aggressive skin treatments at a spa or dermatologist's office. Maintain your skincare routine and wear extra sun protection.
2. Visit Your Dermatologist
If you have major skin concerns like acne and uneven pigmentation, it’s best to get the situation under control well in advance. This is the time to have your doctor prescribe topical treatments such as retinoids and medications to address them. This gives you time to see improvement in your skin over the next few months without reactions right before your wedding.
3. Eat Super Foods
No matter what your skin type is it craves water. Sure, drinking water helps, but snacking on naturally hydrating foods like fruits and vegetables works too. Other super foods for your face? Try grapefruit, cucumbers, tomatoes and kale.
4. Get Brows On Point
Have your brow groomer settle on a shape and tint as far in advance as possible so you can figure out what you like best. For the most flattering and youthful effect keep brows as full and as natural (not too perfect) as possible, which may mean tweezing instead of waxing.
Three Weeks Prior
1. Brighten Your Smile
Get your smile camera-ready with your dentist. For a subtle upgrade book a professional cleaning to remove surface stains and plaque. Then, one day later, go back for an in-office whitening procedure like Philips Zoom QuickPro. To maintain the brightness, using over-the-counter whitening strips up until a day before the wedding can help.
2. Refresh Hair Color
Figure out which hair color works best for you as far in advance as possible. Choose a color that makes you feel most like yourself. At this point you can update highlights or schedule a root touch up so the color has a chance to settle in and still look fresh. You won't have to worry about your roots growing out either.
One Week Prior
1. Say No to Salt
Since your wedding is a week away practice restraint as much as possible. Avoid salty foods, too many carbs and maintain regular exercise. These things can cause your body to retain water and can result in a puffy face and eyes.
2. Go for a Final Trim
Don't make a drastic change with your hair this close to your wedding to prevent any surprises. Have a trusted stylist trim your ends and bangs.
Three Days Prior
1. Wax Carefully
To ensure your skin is smooth but not irritated, get waxed no later than 72 hours before the wedding day. Don't overdo it but simply tweeze any stray hairs near your brows.
The Day of the Wedding
1. Prep Your Skin
For a last-minute boost on the morning of your wedding, apply a gentle exfoliating mask like Murad Pomegrante Exfoliating Mask. Rinse, then apply a hydrating serum onto your face, neck and décolleté and layer on the Clarins Beauty Flash Balm to brighten and tighten the skin before makeup.
Now just relax, have your hair and makeup done and have fun!