My Guide to Dr. Dennis Gross

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We recognize Dr. Dennis Gross as a brand synonymous with at home Alpha Beta Peels, but also a board-certified dermatologist, dermatologic surgeon, and founder of Dr. Dennis Gross Dermatology, a specialized dermatology practice on 5th Avenue, Manhattan. Over the years I’ve tried many products from the line and it was inevitable that I would write this post one day. Grab a beverage and sit back, this will be comprehensive.

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PeelsIt’s only fair to start the brand overview here, with the famed Peels. The first product I tried from the brand many eons ago were the Alpha Beta peels. Needless to say, I’ve been hooked for many years for simple reasons such as: at home solution, no downtime, no sensitivity, redness or peeling experienced. Most importantly, visible results day after day, week after week! My skin has been refined in terms of tone and texture. These give me ‘glass complexion‘. Packaged as a two step application process, ultimate convenience for travel and preserves the freshness of each peel. Concocted with an ingenious balance of Alpha (AHA) and Beta Hydroxy Acids (BHA) in Step 1 with Glycolic Acid, Salicylic Acid, Lactic Acid, Mandelic Acid, Malic Acid, Citric Acid. While Step 2 is formulated with Resveratrol, Retinol, Ascorbic Acid, Ubiquinone, Copper, Zinc and Sodium PCA intended to control the acid activity (from Step 1) and deliver anti-aging actives and skin nourishing ingredients.

Catered to each skin’s tolerance level, Gentle Daily Peel for sensitive skins (doesn’t contain more deeper penetrating acids, limited to only Lactic Acid, Mandelic Acid – larger molecular structure), Universal is for as the name suggests, and Extra Strength for the more experienced users, acid acclimated skins and those who mean business with the peels.

P1030123Of course for the weekly treatment they have Medi Spa Peel (Ingredient highlights: Amino Acids, Ceramides, Peptides, Hyaluronic Acid, Vitamin A, Retinol, Resveratrol, Green Tea, Antioxidants, Vitamin C, Glycolic Acid, Lactic Acid, Malic Acid, Azelaic Acid) which is chockfull with a lot of skin goodness. I like to use these after cleansing, steaming the skin and follow with Medi spa peel. The results are astounding.

Now aside from regular AHA peel, DrDG has also developed a treatment peel under the Ferulic + Retinol line which claims to improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, firm, smooth and boost radiance (Ingredients Highlights: Witch Hazel Water, Retinol, Ferulic Acid, Sodium Hyaluronate, Squalane, Sodium PCA, Lactic Acid, Mandelic Acid, Linoleic Acid, Linolenic Acid). This is my first retinol peel pad, and I cannot recommend it enough. Immediate results in terms of firmer skin tone. The only bummer is the price, but as a treatment pad I could push it (or wait for a sale!).

fullsizeoutput_4f53.jpegCleanser – The cleanser I’ve tried from DrDG is a their newer launch, Alpha Beta Cleansing Gel which is an extension of their cult Alpha Beta line. Long story short, yes it has a mild foam but no soap or sulphates. Not stripping or drying on the skin at all. Another plus, it doesn’t sting around my eyes. Ingredient wise, formulated with Glycerin, Mandelic Acid, Glycolic Acid, Willow Bark Extract, Phytic Acid, Citric Acid, Farnesol, Barosma Betulina Leaf Extract, Sodium PCA, Sodium Hyaluronate, Snow Ear Mushroom Extract, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract. Gentle exfoliation while cleansing and personally, I don’t like removing makeup with this cleanser, preferred as a second cleanse or morning cleanse. Given a fab formulation, it is also wonderful for the body. Particularly for those who experience, body (back, arms or legs) acne or ingrowns.

Toning Mist: While I have a detailed review on C + Collagen Perfect Skin Set & Refresh Mist, to summarise my experience all I can say is ‘I’m on my second bottle‘. I’ve used this mist under makeup (after cleansing and before moisturizing) and over makeup. It truly does hydrate and replenish the skin. Generally I avoid misting spring water, toners over makeup because it makes me look oily, makeup cracks in pores and skin feels tight and dehydrated. This however, I’ve been spraying at all random times during the day (purely because I’m greedy for glow) over makeup. Plus it has a wonderful pleasant scent with a remarkable inci list.

P1030127Serums: For Brightening, Hydration, Anti-Aging, Uneven skin tone

Let me start with my personal fave line of serums from the Ferulic + Retinol  line which includes the Brightening Solution and Overnight Serum. I have a separate post comparing the two serums (linked Here). Both the serums have different formulation, delivery method, purpose in life and compatibility with various skin types and concerns. The Brightening Solution is for anyone with uneven skin tone, sun damage, scars from pimples and overall need for brightening the skin. While Overnight Serum has an addition of Niacinamide making it perfect anyone looking for an effective anti aging product. I believe the overnight serum is an all rounder with AHAs, Antioxidants, and Niacinamide.

My skin has been very finicky about Vitamin C serums, until this serum was introduced: C + Collagen Brighten and Firm Vitamin C Serum – Lets start with the packaging, in an air tight bottle with a pump. I couldn’t ask for more, exactly same packaging is used for Ferulic + Retinol Overnight Serum. A beautiful caramel colored (deliberately added to avoid the appearance of oxidized vitamin C), gel consistency makes it super light and absorbs in the skin instantly. I’ve noticed in many other vitamin C serums where the product leaves a tacky, glossy and even glittery finish on the skin. None of those offensive and glow deceiving feels with DrDG serum. Also a lot of Vitamin C serums irritate my skin (Ascorbate vitamin C) or leave it red (referring to Ordinary here). DrDG serum has their patented 3-O-Ethyl Ascorbic Acid, Niacinamide,  Lactic Acid, Ascorbic Acid, Collagen Amino Acids, Superoxide Dismutase, Glycine, Carnitine HCl, Ubiquinone, Indian Gooseberry Fruit Extract, Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate (stable form of Ascorbic acid, and is lipid (fat) soluble), Mandelic Acid, Kudzu Extract, Turmeric Root Extract, Phytic Acid, Citric Acid….Basically the formulation is fantastic and is one of more gentler, effective Vitamin C serums my skin has got along with. This serum could suit any skin type,  followed with a nourishing oil/balm or moisturizer.

DrDG also introduced a range of Clinical Concentrate Boosters for Hydration and Radiance. Lets talk about the Hydration Booster first which is intended to replenish hydration containing Hyaluronic acid, Evening primrose extract, Coconut fruit juice, among other stellar ingredients bottled in an obvious blue bottle. This colourless serum is light, sinks in the skin instantly, can be used as a spot treatment (under eye for fine lines or blemishes to instantly calm the redness), or add a few drops to moisturizer, serum or foundation, and it instantly soothes, plumps and hydrates the skin. For any skin type, for any weather zone (humid or dry), for any age group, for any skin tone, for basically any one! Possibly my fave hydration serum of all time.

Moving along, Radiance Booster packaged in a bright trademark DrDG orange bottle. This is possibly one serum where I’ve found myself reaching for it when I’m desperate and not as consistently. Not sure why, if I had to attribute to one reason may be its the packaging for the serum consistency. The consistency is slightly thicker than the Hydration booster so the dropper dispensing mechanism is not my fave. Anyway, another experiment I’ve yet to try is to blend with moisturizer, serum or foundation. The ingredient formulation has a unique combination of Pyruvic, Tartaric, and Linoleic acids,  antioxidants (Resveratrol, Quercetin), Glycolic and Lactic acid and Witch Hazel to resurface the skin. I find other serums in DrDG line more effective for resurfacing and radiance.

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Moisturisers:

Welcome a new treatment moisturizer in the Alpha Beta family, the Alpha Beta Exfoliating Moisturizer. As Carrie Gross mentioned in her video with Sali Hughes, 2018 is the year of expanding the Alpha Beta line. And what a remarkable product to introduce to the existing range of products. It seems like a meaningful and impactful addition. For the experienced acid users and skins, to be used after peel however for others can be introduced in the routine gradually. Packaged in a beautiful frosted glass jar, with a cucumber scent (possibly the only factor I dislike in this product). Absorbs nicely and a gentle way to introduce acid exfoliation while hydrating the skin. Can be suited to most skin types. If you need only one moisturizer, this is it. It’s an all rounder really, exfoliates and hydrates. More mature skins might have more needs, but those specific needs can be addressed through potent serums, but for a moisturizer this is just enough if you can get past the strong cucumber scent.

Hyaluronic Moisture Cushion (oil free), is my reliable, dependable, second jar of the hydration moisturizer. Day or night, before makeup in the morning or after serum in the evening, standalone or mixed with couple of drops of oils (extra oomph) or foundation (for tinted moisturizer), in every way it ticks all boxes. This moisturizer applies beautifully, absorbs immediately (also sometimes mixed with DrDG Hydration booster), and truly leaves skin plump all day. At my work, the temperature control is horrible and during winters the heating sucks every bit of moisture leaving me a lizard face. It is extremely rare I use the same moisturizer daily, every single day. With this fella though it is a different story. Also layering with DrDG Hydration booster worked really well. While this could work with absolutely any skin type, for oily skins in particular this could be their wet dream (pun intended) and drier skins might need more (next cream would be perfect).

C+Collagen Deep Cream is a luxurious cream that claims to be powered by DrDGs proprietary energy complex, 3-O C patented vitamin C technology, and collagen amino acids. This cream is rich (includes nourishing oils) and deeply nourishes the skin. Sinks in nicely, leaves a dewy finish on skin and layers beautifully with all other skincare or makeup. The formulations key ingredients include; Aloe Vera, Niacinamide, Carnitine, Squalene, Amino Acids, host of Antioxidants, Biotin, Glycolic Acid and other restoring ingredients (Superoxide dismutase and CoQ10). While this worked well for me during winter, I think it would be heavy for my combination skin during a humid summer. Also on the basis of the formulation, dry skin or mature skins would adore this cream while the Hyaluronic cushion cream would be more appropriate for younger, oilier, dehydrated skins.

P1030306Firming Peptide Milk is possibly the most under-rated and under-raved moisturizing milk. And I was definitely one of those people who didn’t appreciate this enough. It is formulated with a nourishing firming complex including Tetrapeptide-21, Collagen Amino acids, and Ceramides. With a light milky consitency, one pump all over the face and it melts in the skin. Instantly hydrates and nourishes skin, and excellent under makeup. I particularly love this over DrDG’s Hydration Booster. They recommend using this after the Medi Spa peel and yes the results are excellent. Anddd the genius packaging with a twist top pipette which automatically dispenses the exact amount needed. Brainiac move DrDG!

Eyes:

eyeFerulic + Retinol Triple Correction Eye Serum and Ferulic + Retinol Eye Cream is just is just my ideal eye love, treatment and nourishment. This is probably my only repeat bottle of an eye serum. Possibly on my third or fourth eye serum bottle, not sure I’ve lost count. It is a beautiful light serum which sinks in beautifully, doesn’t feel tight or dry (because of retinol). It doesn’t matter if I follow with cream or not. I tend to take this all over my eye, i.e. under eye and over the lid too. It has visible results for my uneven texture, fine lines, and visible tightening of eye zone (in a good way). Typically a retinol eye serum or cream would freak me out with the thought of dry sensitized eye area, none of those feels with this one. I couldn’t rave and recommend this eye serum enough because this is the only eye serum I’ve consistently used over the years.

Swiftly moving along to its extended partner, the Ferulic + Retinol eye cream, deliciously rich eye cream. I worked through only a jar (yes this involves dipping fingers in the jar) of this, but as I reminisce fond memories of this cream, this is what I can share with you. The biggest worry was would it cause milia due to its rich consistency and the biggest plus point is it didn’t cause any milia. On the flip side, this was deeply loved by my mother, for its rich consistency. I particularly loved using this on my crows feet, for my under eye I couldn’t steer away from the eye serum. I would definitely repurchase this cream when I can pull myself away from the eye serum.

One very important and most frequently asked question, does it address dark circles. Let me cut to the chase, No! Slight diversion to understand why do we have/inherit these pesky annoying dark circles? Genetics (hereditary), allergies, fatigue, low iron in blood, pigmentation which specific races are more prone to, lack of sleep. No topical application will ever get rid of some of these causes, but instead focus your energies on finding and investing in a good concealer. Nuff said. Moving along…..

C + Collagen Brighten + Firm Eye Cream is also a newer addition to the eye range. Packaged in a slim plastic pump tube, no finger dipping and extremely convenient to travel with. This cream is intended to brighten the look of puffy, tired, and aging eyes. Formulated with DrDG’s patented 3-O C Vitamin C technology, Collagen Amino acids, Niacinamide this cream is light and smooth on application. Absorbs nicely and didn’t cause any milia. It definitely brightened the eye zone, and it didn’t have any fine mica particles for brightening. This is where the benefits stopped for me. The hydration for eye area is covered more with the next eye gel. All in all this is nice, but I prefer something like Ferulic + Retinol cream which covers many other aspects and needs for treating the eye zone.

Hyaluronic Marine™ Dew It All Eye Gel was initially and instantly dismissed by me as a gel. I’m not exactly as young, to allow a gel near my eye. It needs more than gel, a proper cream or something more substantial than a gel to thoroughly nourish my eye area. But I was wrong, my pre conceived notion of a gel for eyes was ignorant. After trying it, firstly I realized it is more creamy gel and secondly, it works under makeup, and doesn’t crease either. Although it claims 72 hours of hydration, far fetched in my opinion. I wouldn’t have skincare or makeup on my face more than 12-14 hours (max). I would still say, this is more of a day time eye cream under makeup or for younger skins. For emerging fine lines, plumpness and overall aging I would still prefer Ferulic + Retinol eye serum or cream.

Mask:
Hyaluronic Marine Hydrating Modeling Mask, 
ooooh this is one I have a love and hate IMG_0074relationship with. More so love for the results, hate (strong word, but major dislike I’d say) for the application. Its tricky and needs practice and skill. Comes in two separate packets, one is the Hyaluronic Cushion Gel to be mixed with Activating Powder in a bowl. The tricky part kicks in now, where it needs to be immediately applied to the skin (ideally in a thick and even layer). On application it instantly feels cool. The mask sets within a few minutes, but I leave it on for 20-30-40 mins (crazy I know). Removing the mask is oddly satisfying, nicely lifted and peeled off the skin. I don’t rinse my skin, follow with serum and moisturizer. The skin appears properly plump (well hydrated) and adds life to the skin. If you’re a pro at applying Korean Rubber masks, this will be breeze for you.

IMG_8774Sunscreen :

Well after all those peels and actives, the importance of sun protection needs to be of utmost importance. In DrDG’s line there are two options of sun protection. One is a physical sunscreen Dark Spot Sun Defense Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 50 (Titanium Dioxide, Zinc Oxide), to protect against UVA and UVB rays.  I’ve been through two tubes of this and definitely like this. Fantastic under makeup, absorbs nicely, no sticky or tacky feeling. Plus no white cast or greyish tones for me. I also use this over my ears, neck, chest, back of neck, arms and basically any exposed skin to the sun. I’ve also tried this in a dry summer and humid summer. Trust me this differentiation is noteworthy not only in performance but more importantly on how the skin adapts and reacts to the given product. In the crazy tropical humid summer is where this sunscreen fell slightly behind for me. It did get a little overbearing for my skin and had to resort to other misting sunscreens. However in a dry summer (thinking of you Colorado), this was perfect. Not only it protected me from the sun, but other ingredients like Sodium Hyaluronate, three forms of Vitamin C and other antioxidants nourished the skin.

Other option available includes the tinted physical sunscreens, Instant Radiance Sun Defense Broad Spectrum SPF 40. Available in Light/Medium or Medium/Deep, while the shade range is not adequate, the coverage is sheer making it forgivable. For the most part the formula for both sunscreens appear to be the same, except the tinted one has illuminating properties which translates to tiny micro particles of Mica. Doesn’t make me shiny, or disco glow ball but the fact it has Mica does bother me slightly. I apply this with a wet sponge and finish is nice, but psychologically the Mica bothers me. This is just my personal preference and doesn’t reflect on the product itself. Hence I prefer the non tinted version from this line.

Devices:

gadgetsFirst up, is a basic but solid delivery steamer, Pro Facial Steamer Solutions. Anyone who has had regular facials would know that steaming with exfoliation is good way to deep clean and prep the skin for next steps. This steamer is exactly that. It defines exactly how much water is required, is timed (so you cannot over-do it) and the mist is extremely fine. Typically a part of my weekly facials, applying an enzyme based mask and steaming the skin, prepping it for extraction or next steps of skincare. Subsequent to steaming, other skincare products absorb much better in the skin, definite keeper.

Next up is Dr.DG DRx SpectraLite Eye Care Pro an unusual, FDA cleared device for your eye zone. Powered with 72 LED lights in the device, bringing professional light therapy at home intended to penetrate deep within the layers of skin, stimulating collagen production to improve skin density and smooth fine lines and wrinkles. It can be easily incorporated in the routine, very easy to use, takes only 3 minutes while I moisturize my body and have visible results. Followed with Ferulic+Retinol Eye serum and the results are definitely visible in matter of 2-3 weeks. I wouldn’t necessarily call it a must have for everyone, but if eye area is a concern for you, would recommend looking into this investment.

fullsizeoutput_3826So to round up my overall opinion, experience, and results from this brand is nothing but glowingly positive. I respect the brand from a Dermatologist’s lens, his overall skincare philosophy aligns with the way I want to protect, treat and nourish my skin. Not every single product works for me, in some instances due to formulation not working with my skin or just personal preference. But for the large part, if I choose the product appropriately for the skin condition I’m treating, it always works.

I’m a loud and proud #PeelAddict, no shame here. While I don’t peel twice a day, I always keep my stash adequately stocked. My husband uses it, I use it, my family uses it, my friends use it. I refuse to travel without it, especially long haul flights (traveling back home takes 22 hours, Chicago to Melbourne!!). What I also love about DrDG line, is there is a product for everyone (all ages, genders, skin types and concerns) and provides visible results on the skin.

Devotedly yours,

#PeelAddict aka HHW.com

xx

RECOVERY – POST TRAUMATIC FACIAL

One fine Saturday morning, I was incredibly excited for a Pro Biotic facial (which I purchased from Gilt). I was so looking forward to someone caressing my face, performing extractions to improve the texture of my skin, thoroughly clean, relax and rejuvenate with some facial massage. The facial looked appealing and perfect for my skin.

As I walked in, the place looked peaceful, clean and welcoming. I was led to the room and asked to fill a basic form with skin background, conditions and concerns. This was followed up with a brief conversation about my skin concerns, to which I promptly responded I needed to resolve some underlying build up congestion which has not surfaced at all. Also gave a full history of why it happened and how I was able to resolve to a degree. Then I had couple of obvious hormonal spots on my chin and jaw, along with some usual white heads and blackheads around nose area.

Anyway the facial commenced, and my first yellow flag was she didn’t go beyond my face, no neck, shoulder or chest. I let it pass and on the face all felt ok until the point we hit extractions. I have high pain tolerance however these extractions were most painful in my life! The tool used and technique sucked and left my skin bruised and traumatized for a couple of days.

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Some red flags I should have picked up on: she was poking and prodding on the same area, she was also poking and prodding in areas which weren’t ready, she went close to milia (big no-no, given she isn’t a dermatologist). She continued with the facial, with mask, light massage, high frequency, blue and red light and exclaimed voilà! She suggested to take my time as I get up and get dressed. I tipped her (not sure why?!?!!!) and left the place wanting to see my skin in proper day light. I was horrified, the first pic I took as I sat in the car. With daylight brightness (clear sunny day), it tones down the redness in the pic.

I immediately noticed my skin is bruised, bumpy, traumatized, red, severely irritated, and didn’t want to even touch my face. The bumps were areas or spots where I had no active surface spots (pustules), these were under the skin congestion spots (nodules) that she had a field day with. From the ruthless extractions, my skin felt warm. I felt like my inner radiator was lit, like hot flushes (not a good feeling). Fast forward to Day 3 after the facial, and I had started to possibly notice scarring (from brutal extractions) and extremely dehydrated skin. Anyway so fast forward to how I treated. Mantra was simple yet methodical, and identified ingredients my skin needed to be fed.

As a part of this post, the focus here should be ingredients that soothe, heal and nourish the skin, not so much the specific product used. Having said that, I will include the specific products I used, but I recommend focus on ingredients and dig through your stash.

Mantra: Soothe, Calm, Heal, Repair, Nourish, Replenish, Resurfacing

Day 1 (post facial) – As soon as I reached home, I gently cleansed my face with cleansing milk because I wanted to get rid of the products she applied on me. Generously spritzed zinc spray (La Roche Posay Serozinc) to soothe my irritated skin. Followed by that I placed a cool hydrating sheet mask and rested for a bit. With this my skin temperature was under control and didn’t feel the hot flush. Post mask, again zinc mist, hydrating serum and basic Jojoba Oil. The same evening,  I followed the exact same routine.

Step 1 – Soothe, Calm, Hydrate – Calm the skin from that trauma

By this point, I knew my skin’s barrier was compromised, vulnerable and not resilient. So aim of the game was soothe, calm and hydrate while gently building a resilient barrier again.

Ingredients Focus: Hydration – Hyaluronic Acid, Zinc, Aloe Vera, Calendula, Chamomile, Turmeric (best anti inflammatory), Fermented Essence to pat in, and High Frequency.

I continued with some high frequency at home every couple of days to help heal the skin.  Slowed down on massaging the skin because it would instantly go red and not stand the lightest pressure either. My skincare routine for next few days included:

  • Cleanse – Milk Cleansers and Gentle Emulsifying Balms (because I didn’t want to use washcloths)
  • Masks – Raw or Manuka Honey based (Mahalo Petal Mask, AveSeena Beauty Active Mask, Amala Beauty Brightening Mask, Leah Lani Mermaid Mask, The Body Shop Ethiopian Honey Mask)
  • Tone – Fermented Essences (Whamisa, Missha FTE Mist, SKII), Zinc Spray (La Roche Posay Serozinc)
  • Serum – Hydration serums (Hyaluronic Acid, along with Humectants such as Glycerin, Vitamin E, Sodium Hyaluronate – salt of Hyaluronic acid with smaller molecular size allowing deeper penetrability, Yeast extracts).
  • Sheet Mask – Soothing, Calming and Hydrating essence sheet mask (SKII, Whamisa, A by Bom, Blossom Jeju, Dr Jart+, Bonvivant)
  • Moisturisers (for day) – Barrier repair formulations (Priori Barrier Repair Complex, Skinmedica & Dermalogica)
  • Balm (for evening) – Linoleic acid rich oils, Amazonian butters like Uccuba, Murumuru to improve skin’s elasticity and resilience. Along with essential oils like German Chamomile (soothing), Turmeric (anti inflammatory) (Mahalo Balm, HHW Marakata Balm). You have to ensure that your skin can withstand the essential oils given it is compromised and sensitive.

By this point, sensitivity, irritation all minimized and I can continue re-building skin’s barrier with little more than a Hydration serum. Below pic is clicked exactly a week later. You can tell, surface and texture is not the best, it felt tight, scars starting to show, and a long road to recovery.

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1 Week Later…..

Step 2 – Replenish, Heal – Address the dehydration and surface dryness. ReBuild skin’s barrier again.

At this point, while irritation has subsided, it continued to feel tight, flat/pale, and overall an unhealthy appearance.

Ingredients Focus: Still a strong hydration focus with Hyaluronic acid with Humectants however, now I incorporate Antioxidants such as Green Tea, Resveratrol, Vitamin E, Squalene, Coenzyme Q-10, Caffeine.

I slowed down on high frequency this week, and started light massage to get the blood cells moving and keep the lymph drainage going. We don’t want stagnation which would have slowed down the recovery path. While most of the routine remained same, the new additions were around light massage, gentle exfoliation and patting in a number of layers of essence:

Routine:

  • Cleanse – Milk Cleanser, Angels on Bare Skin (my version which is finer in texture, also contains Goat Milk powder, No lavender and very gentle on skin)
  • Exfoliation – Fruit Enzymes (Basics on Enzymes) Skin was ready for mild exfoliation, not aggressive with physical or strong acid (Skin Juice Facial in a Jar – combination of AHA and enzymes, PCA Revitalizing Mask – papaya enzyme, Rejuvi Exfoliating Mask – papaya enzyme, Dr Lewinns Reversaderm).
  • Tone – 7 Skin Method involves patting in the essence 7 times, but you can determine how your skin is absorbing it. Can be limited to 2-3-4-5 times as well. It immediately addressed the skin’s tightness, surface dryness and lackluster appearance. Skin was bouncy like water bed. This can be layered in with hydration and antioxidant serums and while skin was damp, I applied an oil or balm (Whamisa, Blithe, Missha FTE Mist, SKII).
  • Serum – Hydration (Jordan Samuel Hydrate, MD Sun Hydration, Twelve Beauty, Sukin Facial Recovery Serum, Auspect Vitamin B Serum)
  • Sheet Mask
  • Oil or Balm while skin is still moist from mask

Dehydration and surface dryness were dealt with by this week with really good results. The 7 Skin method from Korea, immediately plumps the skin and sealing with a balm captures all goodness (creating a hydrolipid layer on skin). To check the hydration levels, I would pinch my skin to check how quickly it bounces back, or try not applying any products immediately after cleansing or shower. If it felt tight and craved product I knew the condition persisted. The skin was ready to take on more, so I introduced actives.

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Step 3 – Repair, Resurface Address the spots that came to surface, and Introduce Acids.

For the spots that surfaced, I extracted only if they were ready or left them alone. I wrapped my fingers around Intrinsics Silken Wipes and gently pushed them out after steaming my face. The main thing was not cause my skin any more trauma. Its not the end of the bloody world, if someone sees me with a spot or two!

Now here is the key of how I introduced the actives, because we all know, the easiest way to compromise skin’s barrier is over exfoliation. But also important to build an acid mantle again.

Introducing acids and retinol was a well thought out, methodical strategy which involved the molecular size of acid (penetrability in skin) along with ph level (how gentle or aggressive it would be) which would determine if it would irritate my skin or gently treat it. I included the actives through varying stage such as acid toners, masks, serums or treatment creams.

Acid Progression Meter –  Detailed post on Basics of AHA’s

Poly Hydroxy Acids – Least irritating (Zelens PHA Pads – uses Lactobionic PHA)

AHA (in order of smallest or largest molecule – determining penetrability in the skin)

  • MandelicColleen Rothschild Radiance Serum, Naruko Dermalane Mandelic Acid Sheet Masks and 20% Radiance Serum
  • Citric – No Standalone Product, as a part of Acid Combination
  • Tartaric – No Standalone Product, as a part of Acid Combination
  • Malic – No Standalone Product, as a part of Acid Combination
  • LacticKate Somerville Clinic to go, Bravura London Lactic Acid Peel
  • GlycolicAlpha H Liquid Gold (operates at ph of 2.5)

BHA (Salicylic Acid) – to avoid further congestion (Bravura London Salicylic Acid)

Acid Combination (contains a balanced formulations of all AHAs) – Dr Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Peel Pads, Biologique Recherche P50, DermaDoctor Kakadu C Intensive Vitamin C Peel Pads with Ferulic Acid & Vitamin E (+ boost of antioxidants).

Retinol – Introduced to my skin when it appeared my skin was comfortable using Lactic acid and ready to progress to Glycolic acid. I needed to ensure I was not experiencing any surface dryness before I incorporated Retinol in the mix. Started with 0.15% which was gentle enough (Skin+Pharmacy Retinol with Hyaluronic Acid Wipes) and progressed to 0.5% (Skinmedica Retinol Complex).

Routine:

  • Cleanse, Double cleanse only if I’m wearing full face of makeup with sunscreen.
  • Exfoliation – Enzyme exfoliation with steam, Chemical+Physical exfoliation (detailed post on products).
  • Mask – Four to five times a week, sounds crazy but has significantly helped my skin bounce back. Started including stronger clay masks but added couple of drops of oil so the skin doesn’t dry and reverse all the hard work.
  • Acid Treatments – starting with 2 times a week and based on how skin responded, I increased to 3-4 times a week
  • Hydrating or Soothing Toning Mist
  • Serums – Exfoliation Serums (good balance of AHA’s and BHA with some moisturizing ingredients aid in resurfacing the skin to reveal fresher, brighter, even toned skin). Resurfacing Treatments are concentrated forms of AHA’s and Retinol to resurface and revitalise the skin. Used strictly as a treatment, once or twice a week (SkinBetter AlphaRet Overnight Treatment, Cosmedix Define, Kate Somerville RetAsphere Micro peel). Retinol Serums  (separate postDrDG Ferulic+Retinol, PTR Retinol Fusion, Colleen Rothschild Retinol Complex, La Roche Posay Redermic R).  
  • Sheet Mask (optional)
  • Oil or Balm

By thoughtfully and carefully introducing actives in the skincare routine, my skin showed significant signs of improvement in terms of texture, tone and overall brightness. The surface dryness was completely gone by creating and maintaining a strong hydrolipid layer on skin (applying an oil or balm while skin is damp from essence)

Step 4 (ongoing) – Repair, Resurface (Addressing Scarring)

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Week 5 progress  Skin looks Good (with makeup)

Yes, her poorly skilled technique of extractions has left me with scars. As I slowly incorporate stronger acids (DrDG, Alpha H, Neostrata, Naruko Dermalane) and gradually build tolerance for stronger actives again, my skin will slowly but surely bounce back. I know this last step will take weeks before I see visible improvement in tone of the skin. Will continue with more sheet masks as well, exfoliating masks as skin regeneration is crucial.

While most of my routine has bounced back to it’s usual self with strong resurfacing actives (including AHA and RetinolAlpha H Beauty Sleep Power Peel), I’ve had more focus on Pigmentation Serums which have high concentrations of Niacinamide (Vitamin B3). It’s the powerhouse ingredient. Absolutely fabulous for spots, red blotchiness, pigmentation, fine lines and wrinkles. Other ‘natural’ ingredients to look out for are: Licorice, Arbutin (natural derivative of hydroquinone derived from plants, including Bearberry, Blueberry, and Cranberry), and Kojic Acid (Manyo Factory Galactomyces Niacin Treatment, Auspect Skincare Vita B Serum).

Other very important aspects which have been crucial in this recovery are:

  • Massage, getting my skin moving, improving the blood circulation is important for lymph drainage and skin to heal. Several videos on YouTube on how to massage either by hands or jade tool or roller for Gua Sha. The underlying point is get the blood circulation moving (avoid stagnation) and flush toxins from skin.
  • Always and Always be guided by your skin, it speaks to you and you need to listen, understand and adapt. If its reacting and going red, you’re not doing something right, it feels tight – you’re dehydrated and possibly surface dry, over producing oil – you’re stripping it off good healthy fatty oils, breaking out in certain spots – either to do with your diet, gut health or overall health. This list could go on and on, but it is very important to understand why your skin is reacting in the way it is.
  • Your Insides Reflect Outside – What you put in your mouth and how you digest it has HUGE impact on your skin. Having the right balance of enzymes, acidity/alkalinity and fluids is utterly the baseline of solid skin health. I’m not telling anyone to quit dairy, or go gluten free for your skin….let your skin tell you how its coping with your habits.
  • Supplements, in addition to my usual Vitamin D and Fish Oils, I added Hyaluronic Acid supplements on Lady Hirons suggestion and it has worked for me. Not saying this is for everyone but check with your doctor. Get regular blood work done. Again this reflects on the point above.

Well this is it for now, by no means am I aiming for perfection but I would like to get to a place where I find it comfortable again to step out without makeup.

HHW.com

xx

 

Oils Beyond Cleansing

fullsizeoutput_4bc4By the virtue of oils, their versatility goes beyond just cleansing. Despite them being marketed and sold as oil cleansers, we need to pause and review the ingredient to assess their use and applicability. These extra special treats can also be used for a nice deep facial massage with second cleanse, mix a few drops with clay or mud masks to avoid skin from drying, mix a couple of drops in your moisturizer for an oomph factor. Also finish off the routine and seal the skin with an oil. For those odd days when we have a spot or two or three, heal it with kindness aka oil.

As for the cleansing oils we have lined up here, I’ve used them as treatments for skin. The price range is uber expensive to inexpensive. Catering to all price points, inci lists, geographic regional availabilities and of course skin types. I wanted to round up some ‘cleansing oils’ and share some accidental discoveries and ways I’ve been using them. The common theme across all these oils are they’re all non emulsifying blend of carrier and essential oils and sold as cleansing oils. However, depending on composition and formulation, I see them more as treatment oils, and super travel friendly (subject to packaging) as ‘one oil does it all‘.

First up in this category is the MV Organics 9 Oil Cleansing Tonic. With an addictive aroma, claimed to be an instant pick up for tired, dehydrated and sun damaged skins. Packed with antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant rich plant and essential oils. I’ve used this oil in every way possible and cannot fault it. Been through two bottles myself and it lasts a while. Personally I like to massage it into the skin and leave it. Wiping it off with warm wash cloth, feels like I wiped off all the goodness off my face. This oil would be particularly good for inherently dry and surface dry skins to press it in the skin. The simplicity of the ingredient list really enforces the message of keeping it basic and fuss free while being effective.

Ingredient List: Camellia (Camellia Oleifera) Oil *, Avocado (Persea Gratissima) Oil *, Infused Centella (Centella Asiatica Extract) Oil, Vitamin E – non GM (Tocopherol), Rosemary (Rosmarinus Officinalis) Extract * With essential Oils of: Bitter Orange, Lavender, Geranium, Sandalwood, Rosewood and Carrot Seed (*Organically Grown)

Next up is Alyssum Alchemy’s Divine Oil which I consider to be the Rolls Royce of oil in this category. It is an extra special treat in terms of ingredients and formulation. The first ingredient is handcrafted solar infusion of Calendula which is incredibly calming to irritated skin. It also features a base of precious oils of hemp, camellia, jojoba, pumpkin, rosehip and argan and handcrafted herbal solar infusion of vanilla. This blend of oils are rich in lineolic acid (great for oily congestion prone skins) which help to balance the acid mantle of oily, congestion prone problem skins.

What’s more interesting in this bottle of goodness is the infusion with Australian Rose Quartz (from the Harts Ranges in the Northern Territory) on a Full Moon and blessed with Reiki. Also enhanced with carefully selected gem and flower and essences: red rose, Chicago peace rose, briar rose, crabapple, pink flannel flower, white rhododendron, crystal rose quartz, clear quartz, rhodochrosite, gold. 

Honestly, I don’t have a complete appreciation of the intangible energies bottled here but what I can appreciate here, is the oil on my skin and how it feels and performs. I prefer using this oil to finish off my routine and add to clay or mud masks. It properly nourishes the skin without the heavy icky feeling on skin.

Ingredient List: Calendula Officianalis (Calendula) infused Helianthus annus (Sunflower)*oil,  Camellia Sinesis (Camellia) seed oil*,  Argania Spinosa (Argan) oil*, Vanilla Planifolia (Vanilla) Bean* Infused in Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Oil*, Rosa Canina (Rosehip) Oil*, Cannabis Sativa (Hemp) seed*, Cucurbita Pepo Styriaca (Pumpkin) seed*, Tocopherol (vitamin E)**, Essential oils of Lavendula Angustofolia (Lavender)*, Cananga odorata (Ylang Ylang)*, pelargonium graveolens (geranium)*, Santalum Spicatum (Australian Sandalwood)*, Citrus Bergamia (Bergamot) Peel oil (Bergapten-Free), Citrus limonum (lemon)*, Gem and Flower essences.

Discovered the next gem through the Boxwalla box, H is for Love Rapha Harmonizing Cleanser. Naming it as a cleanser, I feel is undercutting its performance abilities. It claims the foundation infuses nutrient-rich oils with herbs complimented by antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and highly soothing essential oils. Rapha contains a CO2 extraction of German Chamomile which is known for its high levels of matricin. Highly anti-inflammatory, matricin is a powerful agent of healing. While I thoroughly enjoy using this is as my second cleanse or morning cleanse, I adore its performance in a basic clay mask. Killing spots with kindness is right up this oil’s alley. Also, the earthy scent is something to ravel in, it smells very different to Alyssum Alchemy’s Divine Dew or MV Organics. The scent is not pretty or delightful, it’s earthy and grounding. Ingredients like Calendula, German and Roman Chamomile, Turmeric and Frankincense….these are powerhouse calming and anti inflammatory agents.

Ingredient List: Olive Oil*, Hemp Seed Oil*, Pumpkin Seed Oil*, Castor Bean Oil*, Mixed Tocopherols (Non-GMO Vitamin E), Chamomile*, Calendula*, Essential Oils Of: Roman Chamomile*, Lemon*, German Chamomile CO2*, Frankincense*, Rosemary Antioxidant CO2*, Turmeric CO2*, Lavender* (*Certified organic).

With Aveda’s Tulasara Radiant Oleation Oil, I discovered dry brushing for face. Facial dry brushing helps to promote microcirculation, nourish and restore skin’s radiance. The brush itself is very gentle on skin and with appropriate pressure control, it can be even gentler. Typically I dry brush my skin in the morning, to get the blood circulation moving after a night’s rest and inactivity. The ritual of dry brushing and oleation oil is inspired from an ayurvedic technique called Garshana (with dry brush) and Abhyanga (with warm oil). This technique basically involves massaging the body with warm oil and they say the effects of Abhyanga are similar to the feeling of being saturated with love. Anyway I completely digress with all about Ayurveda….back to the oil.

The blend consists of apricot kernel, sunflower, jojoba, rosehip, sweet almond and ayurveda’s most widely used oil, the sesame oil. The oil itself is very light and allows for nice massage or use in a mask, I wouldn’t want to finish my routine with this oil. But surprisingly does a decent job at removing makeup too (not the heavy makeup and waterproof mascaras).

Ingredient List: Prunus Armeniaca (Apricot) Kernel Oil , Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride , Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil , Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil , Coco-Caprylate/Caprate , Cetearyl Isononanoate , Rosa Canina (Rose) Fruit Oil , Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil , Isostearyl Alcohol , Sesamum Indicum (Sesame) Seed Oil , Rosa Damascena (Rose) Flower Oil , Jasminum Grandiflorum (Jasmine) Flower Extract , Pelargonium Graveolens (Geranium) Flower Oil , Cholesterol , Tocopherol , Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Extract , Fragrance (Parfum) , Farnesol , Linalool , Benzyl Salicylate , Citronellol , Citral , Benzyl Benzoate , Geraniol

The Superfacialist Una Brennan Rose Miracle Makeover Facial Oil is such an excellent product, I just wish it was easily available outside UK. Can be used as pre cleanse, massage and masking session, or to finish off the routine and seal the skin. Easily absorbed, smells divine (as the name would suggest with Rose) and all round a happy and satisfying experience with this oil. On my second bottle now, and there is nothing I could fault with this oil, packaging or performance. Anddd at a decent price point. What more could you ask for?!

Ingredient List: Helianthus annuus (Sunflower) seed oil, Persea gratissima (Avocado) oil, Prunus amygdalus dulcis (Sweet almond) oil, Caprylic/capric triglyceride, Rubus idaeus (Raspberry) seed oil, Cucumis sativus (Cucumber) seed oil, Pelargonium graveolens (Geranium) oil, Lavandula hybrida (Lavandin) oil, Eugenia caryophyllus (Clove) leaf oil, Pogostemon cablin (Patchouli) oil, Mentha arvensis (Peppermint) herb oil, Rosa damascena (Rose) flower oil, Acacia dealbata (Mimosa) oil, Viola odorata (Violet) leaf oil, Tocopheryl acetate, Calendula officinalis (Marigold) flower oil, Laminaria ochroleuca extract, Beta-carotene, Daucus carota sativa (Carrot) root extract, Daucus carota sativa (Carrot) seed oil, Ascorbyl palmitate, Citral, Citronellol, Eugenol, Geraniol, Limonene, Linalool.

A relatively new oil by French Girl Organics Rose Oil formulated with sunflower, jojoba, olive, castor, argan oils. Smells utterly beautiful with notes of rose geranium and sweet orange. The beauty of this oil lies in its simplicity. I don’t stop at my face with oil, extends to my scalp and body too. With all the goodness of oils I like pressing it in my skin instead of moving and wiping it off.

Ingredient List: Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Oil* Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Oil* Olea Europaea (Olive) Oil* Ricinus Communis (Castor) Oil* Argania Spinosa (Argan) Oil* Rosa Mosqueta (Rosehip) Oil* Cannabis Sativa (Hemp) Oil* Calophyllum Inophyllum (Tamanu) Oil* Limnanthes Alba (Meadowfoam) Oil, Essential Oils of Pelargonium Graveolens (Rose Geranium) Oil* Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Sweet Orange)*

And lastly we have Monastery Made Sage Oil, also relatively new to me but one that has moved up the ranks rather quickly. Herbaceous, crisp and sharp is one way to describe the scent but light in texture. Moves nicely, massages beautifully and works really well in masks for its addition of Blue Yarrow known for its anti-inflammatory properties.

Ingredient List: Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil, Vitis Vinifera Seed (Grapeseed) Oil, Ricinus Communis (Castor) Oil,  Salvia Officinalis (Sage Dalmatia) Oil, Coriandrum Sativum (Coriander) Oil, Achillea Millefolium (Blue Yarrow) Oil, Juniperus Communis (Juniper Berry) Oil, Chamaecyparis Obtusa (Hinoki Japanese Cypress) Oil, Pinus Sylvestris (Forest Pine Scots) Oil, Lavendula Angustifolia (Lavender) Absolute

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Ultimately the point is we don’t need several oils, we need one well formulated, ethically sourced quality ingredients product. Sadly the marketing pushes us to get oils for different purposes, but no one is pausing to review the ingredient lists properly to understand it applicability to different uses and skin conditions.

HHW.com

xx

Skincare Gadgets

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Giving you the professional spa like results at home over a period of time. Skincare market has evolved immensely to empower consumers with these skincare gadgets. Over the course of my skincare journey I’ve tried and experimented a few and here are my brief thoughts.

Couple of points which are important for me include: are they easy to incorporate in my routine and how often would I be able commit to them to have visible results? Are they going to pay for themselves spa like treatments?

First up, basic steamer. Dr Dennis Gross Pro Facial Steamer. To anyone who has had regular facials would know that steaming with exfoliation is good way to deep clean the skin. This steamer is exactly that, however $139 is a tad steep. In the past I’ve tried knock off’s from Amazon for $30-40 and they’ve performed fine. Typically part of my weekly facials however lazy me prefers sticking my face over a pot of pasta boiling water too (not recommended at all). Also post steaming, products absorb much better in the skin, definite keeper.

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fullsizeoutput_4396fullsizeoutput_435eDr Dennis Gross DRx SpectraLite Eye Care Pro is unusual, no cheap knock offs available (to my knowledge) and I wouldn’t get cheapies either. This is your EYE area FDA cleared device and you need to be careful. Thankfully this is a FDA cleared device too. Easily incorporated in the routine, very easy to use, takes only 3 minutes while I moisturize my body and have visible results. Wouldn’t necessarily call it a must have, but if eye area is a concern would recommend looking into this investment.

High Frequency device for me is a must have. I’ve loved these in facials and have always had good results. The spa devices frequency level is stronger at typically 100,000-2500,000+ Hertz (cycles per second) however at home piece is 50-60 Hertz. So you see, you will not electrocute yourself but still have results with consistent use. Another difference is, the home piece is orange (neon gas) for treating aging skin and scalp, while violet (argon gas) is for treating acne, inflammation and scalp. For me personally the orange light is working just fine in dealing with spots.

The piece I chose (from Amazon – cheap knock off), comes with 4 attachments (Mushroom tube, Tongue tube – most used, Bend tube, Comb tube for hair). Results on skin are: skin appears tauter, ‘zapping’ spots has reduced their redness and size, stimulated growth on scalp, and overall skin appears healthier.

NuFace is the newest addition in gadgetry family. Its too early to definitely tell about its effectiveness, but I’ve been using NuFace now for roughly 3 weeks (not consistently every night, but 4-5 times a week). So far, I’m noticing mild results specifically around jaw (sharper jawline) or may be I’m hallucinating because I really want it to work. Also noticed, it helped calm down an angry spot on jaw, although they don’t claim this at all. As they say, with consistent 60 days of use one would notice visible results however I’m only at day 12-15 uses (irregular use). One major downside for me has been when to use in my routine because a gel needs to be used. The gel is necessary as it acts as a conductor for micro currents. Without the gel, you will feel zaps and currents on skin which is basically an unpleasant feeling. They provide a gel primer however I don’t enjoy that product, so I’ve been experimenting with all hydrating gel masks I have. That certainly works for me.

Personal Micro Dermabrasion (PMD) is bi-monthly to quarterly used gadget. Does this replace my spa microderm? For me, I’d say yes. Does the job, HOWEVER the spa treatments are stronger, immediately effective and last longer. Plus technology in this space has evolved in spas. I really like this more for my body (particularly legs and back). And I think its paid for itself. Is it a must have, absolutely not.

Luna Foreo Mini is very new to me, personally I’ve not been a cleansing devices person (referring to Clarisonic etc.). But keeping an open mind and with some trial and error I dont mind this. Preference is still with a firm hand massage and wash cloth. Not a must have for me.

To wrap this up, some important points to mention, none of this was overnight! I’ve consistently used these devices to get the result I want for my skin. As always I’m driven by what my skin needs, when it needs and how much it needs it. Following with an appropriate skincare routine is just as instrumental as well.

HHW.com

xx

H is For Love – Bara Balm

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My path crossed with H is for Love Bara Balm through thoughtfully curated Boxwalla beauty subscription box. It was accompanied with Lip Glacé and One Love Organics Love Springs Eternal Serum. At this point, I was in a new territory, with an open mind and willing to try the new lush balm.

The brand claims that BARA Balm is our answer to skin in need. Sometimes skin needs a little extra to soothe and protect.  BARA is formulated to take moisturizing to another level. Each ingredient has been chosen to soften skin, absorbing quickly, leaving your face with an ultra sheer layer of protection against environmental assault. BARA feels light, and has a delightfully sweet and uplifting scent. 

fullsizeoutput_46bf.jpegIn the spirit of full disclosure of course of events, I must say the balm was initially formulated with Shea butter however I experienced the Shea Butter curdling (see pic). This didn’t imply that the product had gone bad/rancid or ineffective or would perform any differently. This is as a result of inherent nature of Shea butter. However it does impact overall user experience. I contacted Bee, the gorgeous soul and artisan of this brand and she advised the Shea has been replaced with Beeswax (no more curdling) and user experience elevated. Yes please!

Website was updated to include this verbiage: We have chosen to remove shea butter from the BARA formulation. Because of this, the texture of BARA stays consistent through temperature fluctuations, and even those prone to skin congestion can reap the benefits of this little pot of sunshine. BARA now has a smoother texture, and the tantalizing scent remains the same. 

Let’s get into the balm review starting with the ingredient listing:

Jojoba oil*, Macadamia nut oil*, Apricot kernel oil*, Pomegranate seed oil*, Tamanu oil*, Beeswax, Sea buckthorn oil*, Mixed tocopherols (Non-GMO Vitamin E), Marshmallow root*, Calendula*, Chamomile*, Lemon balm*, Essential oils of: Chinese rose, Vanilla ‘total’ CO2, Frankincense, Lavender*

*Our products are made in small batches and with ingredients of the highest quality. Because of this, slight fluctuations in color will occur from batch to batch even though ratios stay consistent.

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Source: H is for Love website

HHW.com

xx