Is the Korean Skincare Routine Right For You?

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Last year, I did an article on Korean beauty or K-beauty as it's known on the internet. Beauty trends come and go and one that is really popular right now is what's known as the Korean Skincare Routine. Just what is the Korean Skincare Routine and how does it differ from other facial skin care regimens? Let's learn more about this multi-step trend that has a cult following. I am putting it to the test myself --following the steps for 30 days. I am going on week 3 and I think I am hooked. I think that you really have to be open to something and not just dismiss the idea because it goes against what you're taught in esthetics classes or at the American cosmetics counters. Just like we have adopted many techniques from the French in terms of beauty, we really can learn a great deal about self care and pampering from the Korean skincare routine.
There is a great emphasis on prevention versus correction.

  • At a young age, women in Korea are taught to take good care of their skin, often heading to bathhouses with their mothers. It is cultural to invest time and energy into the art of a skin care routine in order to keep skin looking younger longer.

  • By contrast, in the United States, women are generally more likely to take the minimalist approach with their daily regimen.

  • In the US, trends indicate that we do not typically to stick to a consistent routine until we begin to notice subtle signs of aging.

The Korean Skin Care routine is labor-intensive:

  • There are ten steps, to be exact. Ten. It is truly a ritual -- and that is its appeal. 

  • The idea is that a lengthy (typically 30 minutes) routine helps pamper and nurture your skin. 

  • Says esthetician and Korean beauty expert Charlotte Cho: "It’s the lifestyle and mindset behind skin that’s really getting people interested in Korean skin care rituals."

10 steps of the Korean Skincare Routine: Layering is the name of the game

I am sharing the products I am personally loving and using in K-beauty with you today:

  • Cleansing oil dissolves makeup and remove environmental debris. Massage into face and neck, add a splash of water in order to emulsify the oil, and repeat. I am using The Face Shop Rice Water Bright Light Cleansing Oil. I like it more than face oils from Josie Maran, Sunday Riley, and DHC.

  • Foaming cleanser is used to remove all traces of makeup and other impurities left behind after step one. Following an oil cleanser with a water-based cleanser is known as the “double cleanse” method that is one of the hallmarks of the Korean skincare regimen. I cannot say enough about Innisfree Green Tea Cleansing Foam. I absolutely love how soft and creamy it is. It gently lathers and removes last traces of makeup and cleansing oil. It is the best foaming cleanser I have ever used.

  • Exfoliation is the third step. This step should be done once or twice a week and allows dead skin cells to be sloughed off. It is, perhaps, the most crucial step, as a clean face allows treatment products to absorb more readily into the pores. In other skincare routines, we tend to focus on chemical exfoliants like glycolic acid. A good old fashioned manual scrub is the norm in the Korean routine. I use the Skinfood Black Sugar Wash Off Mask.

  • Toner is applied to assist in restoring skin pH and helps to rehydrate the skin. Think of it as somewhat of a liquid primer for the skin. A makeup primer creates a smooth canvas with which to apply foundation and, similarly, a toner creates the right canvas for serums and masks. We traditionally use a cotton pad to apply toner in the US, but in Korean skincare, it is often applied with the fingertips. I spritz mine onto my fingers and gently massage into skin. There is less waste this way, too, I am finding. I am using -- and loving -- Soo Ae Rose Revitalizing Rose Mist.

  • Essence is a lightweight, less concentrated product used before a serum and is considered to be the core of the Korean skincare routine. Think of essence as a toner-serum blend. Apply this skin repairing liquid into the skin with your hands and gently pat in. My favorite? CosRX Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence.

  • Sheet mask follows a serum. Unlike the masks we are used to in the United States, a wet, paper-like mask is used. This step is relaxing and takes a bit longer than the other steps, as it is on up to 15 minutes. Sheet masks can be used every day of the week if desired. I LOVE my sheet masks and they are so relaxing -- and budget friendly. You can find the Soo Ae brand of sheet mask at Wal-Mart for $2.50 or you can order a giant pack like I did -- 24 masks (ALL different) from Amazon for under $14. The brand is Dermal Korea Collagen Essence Full Face Sheet Masks and I LOVE these!

  • Eye cream is a twice daily must. As the skin under the eyes is thinner than an eggshell, it is quite fragile and lacks hydration. A rich, nourishing cream formula is what is advised. My new favorite is also from Mizon and it is the Snail Repair Eye Cream.

  • Sleeping Packs are used as the very last step at night. They can be used as little as one night a week or nightly if desired. I have two that I use and for different reasons.

    Innisfree Wine Jelly Sleeping Pack smells like a glass of cabernet. I use this one once a week, as it is very hydrating. I know I will be using it more frequently when winter comes. You apply this -- I use a dime size amount for my entire face and neck -- in a thin layer over all of your other products. Since nighttime is best for cell regeneration, it is an ideal time for your sleeping mask to work its magic. It isn't a mask per se, as it doesn't harden or get peeled off. It is almost like a gel-like cream. This particular one is full of protective antioxidants, polyphenols, and contains the anti-inflammatory and exfoliating benefits of mandarin peel extract.
The sleeping pack that I use three nights a week is ULTRA light and non-greasy and contains natural ingredients that are believed to treat hyperpigmentation spots and melasma, which I have. It is the Mizon Good NIght Whiye Sleeping Mask. Don't let the "whitening" in the name scare you. It contains mulberry and paper mulberry extract and a large amount of niacinamide, which is anti-aging and said to help fade spots linked to melasma. I can see that spots are lightening ever so gradually. My skin is also brighter after each use.

  • Sunscreen in the morning is non-negotiable in any skincare routine, but it is emphasized even more so in the Korean skincare routine. It is the very last thing to go on the skin and should be used every single morning -- whether it be cloudy and dreary or sunny and bright. Look for a product with broad spectrum protection to help prevent UVA and UVB damage. A non-greasy choice for the face is La Roche Posay. It is not a Korean product, but it is one I love and swear by and since SPF is so important, I am sticking with it right now. The one I use (*gifted by Influenster) is the La Roche Posay Anthelios Clear Skin Dry Touch Sunscreen SPF 60.

Are all these steps really necessary?

Here's my take: I have been in the skincare industry now for more than half of my life. I believe that taking preventive measures -- beginning a solid skincare routine with potent vitamins and active ingredients -- is really important. I believe that as a culture, we are always busy and in a hurry. This aspect of our lives tends to carry over to our skincare, doesn’t it?
We rush. We skip steps. We opt for fast over thorough. Sometimes we "forget" or our too tired to take off our makeup at the end of the day. Other times, we go a couple weeks without exfoliating, thinking "What's the big deal?"
In that regard, I really think that the aspect of taking a break to sit back, relax, and truly pamper ourselves is really important. I used to be rather skeptical of this routine thinking that it was nothing more than a ploy to get you to purchase more products. I was apprehensive about so many steps and the likelihood that it might irritate the skin and clog pores. I have come to really realize that the way we are accustomed to here in the United States isn't necessarily the only way, the right way or the best way. We rely on what we are taught in esthetics and cosmetology classes, in magazines, and in the latest fads.

I was TRULY a skeptic going into this. Following the Korean skincare routine has become a marvelous self-care ritual for me. No longer a skeptic and no longer relying solely on my training and "this is what the dermatologist recommends", I went into this with a completely open mind and have found that the Korean Skincare Routine, for me, lives up to the hype. 

I am two and a half weeks in. I find that my skin is brighter, more even toned, and that my hormonal acne has lessened. I have not gotten one new pimple. The one whitehead I had is shrinking. I am taking TIME FOR ME, which is something I don't often do. I look forward to this ritual -- it really only takes about 10 minutes when I don't do a sheet mask, but I feel more relaxed before bedtime when I wind down, apply a mask, and just BE.

Is this routine for everyone? It may not be. I am converted, though. I will also say that Korean beauty products are quite affordable compared to their American and French counterparts and you can find many on Amazon -- check packaging, reviews, and inquire about expiration dates if they are not listed. The links I have provided will get you the same authentic products I am using. The entire routine personally cost me just over $100 for ALL of the products (sunscreen was free from Influenster). A non-Korean serum alone can run you that price here. Another note - Korean skincare products tend to feature more actives and a higher concentration of beneficial ingredients. That $50 "niacinamide" cream here in the US might contain niacinamide as the LAST ingredient, while in Korean products, it is near the top. So for bargain hunters wanting STELLAR ingredients, you too will likely be happy with the prices you see!

Have you tried K-beauty? What were your results? Your favorite products? Stay tuned here to The Beauty Writer, as I will be posting lengthier, separate reviews for most of these products, as well as photo progress for you to see from day 1.

An Open Letter to the Person Who Bought My Old Domain Name

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

An open letter to the person who bought my expired domain name and is now using my credentials and posting as "Karley" --

I started blogging ten years ago. Ten. It started as a middle of the night hobby for me when my boys were just 2 and not quite 4. I was tired, overwhelmed, and was carrying with me an enormous amount of sadness over the loss of my dad. He died of pancreatic cancer at age 56 when I was pregnant with my Ben. It was a really hard time.

I was depressed, having panic attacks, and felt as though I was losing my sense of me, of my identity. Do not get me wrong. There were many extraordinarily amazing days! Being a mom was a true joy and there was much laughter. Still, there was something missing in my life - a missing puzzle piece, I suppose. I missed being in the beauty industry. I LOVED talking with people about skincare and ingredients and the newest foundation shades and developments, but I wanted to stay home with my babies. My dad always told me I should write a book about my days as a makeup artist because it was something I truly loved. I loved writing. I loved the beauty industry. So, one sleepless night, I sat down in front of my old Dell desktop and started a free blog on Blogger. That choice allowed sunshine into the darkness.

I had no idea what to call it. The free address was I eventually would call the blog Chic and Green and purchase the domain name I was passionate about natural and ecofriendly beauty and skincare -- and enjoyed talking about local businesses and style, so the name fit. I also home daily with two little ones and I wrote sometimes two or three posts a DAY. The "daily" in the web address was fitting.

During this time, my little nighttime hobby really took off. It was about a year into it that I realized I was getting a really loyal following. If I missed a day or two of posting, people would email and ask why. Companies started reaching out and asking if they could send me products to review. I was blown away -- little old me, a tired mama behind the keyboard, was being offered free products to review. I thought that was pretty cool.

Eventually, I would start being contacted by editors of major publications, including USA TODAY, asking if I would be interested in contributing beauty articles for upcoming issues. Companies I write about offered to have me come to their various headquarters, meeting for lunch, offering me not-yet-released products. And I met some amazing people along the way. Some small business owners have become my friends, valued people in my life and people I have done social media and blogging for. My blog gave me my career. I do what I love and I am damn good at it. I've been writing magazine articles regularly now for 6 years and writing for brands for even longer.

In March 2015, I changed the name of my blog to The Beauty Blogger. I was focused solely on beauty and nothing else. Because I had become so busy with my writing and consulting gigs, I no longer had time to blog daily, and I was no longer writing about green beauty -- I switched to covering mainstream beauty. I bought the domain name and it went live March 1, 2015, still the same content here of YEARS -- the posts dated back to the start and the address was (and is) still hosted here on Blogger.

I stopped regularly blogging - not daily or weekly, but my posts had become more infrequent as my magazine articles and copywriting assignments grew more frequent. I was also homeschooling my son who has high functioning autism, so my free time to blog was getting quite limited. I had a writing website and I had my blog, so I thought I would save time and roll them into one. I bought the domain name because that is most accurate. I am not just a blogger. My
profession is beauty writing. I wanted one website where I could keep my blog and my beauty writing info together. So I have my ten years of content here. It is still hosted here on Blogger and my content is all still here going all the way back to 2007.

I like to believe I am savvy about most things on the net. I am not that savvy about everything. I didn't think about what might happen to my old domain name. I knew someone else could buy it. I get that. In hindsight, I should have just kept it and had it point here. Or paid for it and not used it at all. I had no idea what would happen next. Nothing bad happened when I stopped using after 7 years.

The other night, I typed in after someone mentioned seeing something in passing on my blog about a product I know I never tried. I thought the person was mistaken when she said she saw it on the website she had long ago bookmarked for my blog.

I was shocked by what I saw.

1. The person who bought domain name is still calling it The Beauty Blogger. Not really surprising, however, the person is posting AS KARLEY and the person has copied and pasted a great deal of content from my blog, including my About, Hire Me, As Seen In, and Collaborate page.

2. The person who bought domain name claims to have started the blog in 2007 as Chic & Green, later changing the name to The Beauty Blogger. The person mentions all of MY professional experience and then goes on to say, "My name is Katy and I started this blog in 2007."
No. I am sorry, but I will not let this person do this. No, Katy did not start Chic & Green in 2007. I did. Karley. Not Katy.

3. This person also shares all of her accomplishments, posting MY photos of my blog awards, newspaper mentions, and names of magazines she is published in. NO. NO. NO. The person isn't that bright, as she has posted newspaper photos from mentions in my local papers for my jewelry business back in 2010 and from being featured in a Martha Stewart magazine. These mentions have MY NAME from MY HARD WORK and I am absolutely, positively pissed off.

4. I mentioned earlier that my job is as a freelance writer for magazines, blogging for beauty and skincare brands, and doing copywriting. I have worked my ass off. This is my passion. It is my livelihood. I am not about to allow someone to just buy up my old domain name (which is fine) and then USE MY CONTENT FROM MY WEBSITE, MY EXPERIENCE, MY PHOTOS, MY RESUME, MY ACCOMPLISHMENTS.

5. I have been in contact with the domain registrar, Go Daddy, and with site host, Site Ground. The matter is being investigated. A cease and desist letter is on its way to Brights Grove, Ontario, Canada. That is where this person is located. You see, it's been lots of detective work. The person who bought the domain used a fake name (the last name of Dicks may have been a clue) and an address that turns out to be just a lot, not a building of any kind. The phone number used to sign up was fake, too. More investigating reveals that a man named Jonathan in Ontario, Canada (I have his full name and address) is the person who purchased Again, I DO NOT CARE that he bought my expired domain name! It happens all the time. What does NOT happen it someone then pretending to be you. Or taking YOUR professional history. Or any of the other fraudulent, creepy activity that has been going on.

6. I think something else that bothers me immensely is that the person posting as me is writing things I would never write-- giving glowing reviews to products I personally do not like at all -- using words I would never use, etc. I wouldn't give a big thumbs up to Rodan & Fields, Nars or Tom Ford, nor would I incorrectly refer to the brand Drunk Elephant as "Drunk Elephants". This could be damaging to my career and if this doesn't END now, I will have to take legal action.

Here are screenshots taken today from

The person is posting as "Karley" here -- and is a really shitty writer, by the way.

Add caption

This is MY professional background. This is MY About page-- I am the one who started Chic & Green in 2007. And it says "My name is Katy" then proceeds to be some sort of SEO-written promo for skincare.

Holy moly! What a conicidence! The person at also has had her writing published in the same outlets as me! And she founded Chic & Green in July 2007 AND changed it to The Beauty Blogger, too? UNCANNY.

The Bottom Line

I demand that the owner of remove ALL of my photos. I demand that you stop posting as Karley. I demand that stop claiming to be the person who started the blog in 2007. What you are doing is wrong, most likely is illegal, and most definitely has multiple copyright violations, now over international lines.

On my agenda for the past couple weeks was to be posts on Korean skincare, a fantabulous review of Cire d'Abeille Skin Care, Indie Goat Soap, and the beginning of a month of celebratory giveaways in honor of 10 years blogging here. So bittersweet, as you know I wear my heart on my sleeve and am a pretty emotional girl. I try to be a nice human being. I believe in second chances, but I do not believe in taking from others, which is what this person is doing. It's violating and it needs to stop.

I will be back this week with regularly scheduled posts. And with updates. Thank you for listening -- and for reading my content. Whether you have been a reader of mine for 10 days, 10 months or 10 years -- Well, I absolutely appreciate you.

Color Street Review: Why You Need to Try These!

Monday, July 10, 2017

Let's dish about nails this Mani Monday, why don't we? We NEED to talk about Color Street real nail polish strips. 

My go-to Color Street girl is also a presidential founder, Danielle PowandaShe is AMAZING and I am proud to call her my friend. I met Danielle a few years back when I was with Jamberry. She was my mentor and incredibly respected and very much loved by my colleagues.

I am wearing Color Street Real Polish Strips in Tokyo Lights.
Bracelet is from Karley Mott Jewelry.

These are THE BEST product in the nail wrap genre on the market. The BEST.

  • They are super duper easy to apply. Foolproof, actually.
  • No heat! No expensive heaters to purchase in order for them to go on properly
  • No nail damage. Zero, zip, nada 
  • These are real nail polish and not a vinyl applique, so they remove JUST LIKE nail polish. These are NOT like the others. In fact, Color Street features globally patented technology.
  • Easy peasy to take off -- no weird tricks and damaging methods-- just use your regular nail polish remover. 
  • INCREDIBLE longevity

  • The picture above is after 6 full days of wear. You can see bare nail from my nails growing. 

  • I am in my jewelry studio 4-5 days a week hammering, bending, stamping, and painting. At the end of the day, my nails are stained with patinas and black enamel. My friend Elizabeth says nails are jewels, not tools -- and I abuse them and treat them poorly :( These nail polish strips, though, are amazing. Absolutely fabulous. In 6 days, there is one tiny chip in the glitter that I think no one else can see. That is because I am so hard on my nails.
  • Our dishwasher broke, so I am also handwashing dishes and my nails stood up to blue Dawn and a greasy mac and cheese pan. :) These are so easy to apply, do NOT peel or lift like the more expensive vinyl adhesive type of wraps (cough, cough, Jamberry)
  • Plus, they are part of the well respected Incoco family, one of the most well known brand of high quality nail products.

Watch Danielle's Video

Final Thoughts

Color Street may be the new kid on the block, but let's not knock the New Kid! I am in my 40s and my friends still go to NKOTB concerts - just sayin'. As far as nail products are concerned, Color Street is a rising star. Fabulous products, no damage to the nails, and affordably priced. What's not to love? SHOP NOW for Color Street!

The Beauty Writer Reviews LipSense

Friday, July 7, 2017

You all have heard about LipSense from SeneGence, haven't you? Chances are, this ULTRA LONG WEARING, vegan, cruelty-free lip color has popped up on your Facebook or Instagram feed.

I have seen all the posts -- they are more numerous than those lash posts from Younique a few years back. Unlike Younique, though, the quality of LipSense is decent.

I am going to be honest. I wasn't a fan at first. My lips BURNED and were crying out for the LipSense Oops Remover after the first few applications. I just needed it off my lips!

I waited a few days, tried again, and was happier. It no longer burns. It does sting when I initially apply the color. Then that sting goes away after I apply the gloss. The feeling is similar to applying a lip plumping gloss (like Too Faced, for example). I have mixed feelings. It's a love-hate relationship with this one. 

I always tell it like it is, though, so here goes.

Color Shown: Purple Reign


1. This lasts, on me, 6 to 8 hours without reapplying. I can eat, drink, wipe my mouth, kiss the dog (and even my hubby) without it coming off.

2. The color selection is fabulous! 

3. My consultant, Katie Rich, is a true gem. You will not find better customer service. She knows the products inside out, is kind, helpful, and someone you just will enjoy doing business with!

4. I love that you can change things up by applying a different finish of lip gloss top coat, so you can have matte lips one day, glossy the next (and many other options available).

5. I would DEFINITELY keep these in my arsenal if I were still doing bridal makeup regularly. These would be great for the whole wedding party.


1. I do not like the tacky feeling on my lips, even hours after applying.

2. I am often sensitive to artificial fragrance and this one is strong on my lips.

3. The Alcohol Denat in LipSense is VERY drying to my lips when I wear this multiple days in a row. I have seen memes floating around Facebook erroneously stating that this is required by the FDA in all lip products. I have no idea who started that rumor, because it is untrue.

The Beauty Writer's Bottom Line:

This is a great product despite the cons I mentioned, as it is the most long-wearing lip color on the market. It'll be a night out staple for sure. I will stick with my normal favorites for regular daily wear because I don't like stickiness and actually don't mind an occasional touch up of my favorite colors. I WILL get more LipSense colors and am already eyeing a rich berry hue called Lexie Berry.

*I received this lip set free for review. All opinions are my own.

Should you consider adding supplements to your beauty regimen?

Thursday, June 29, 2017

To preserve your youthful glow and help prevent fine lines, wrinkles, and loss of skin elasticity, consider adding a beauty supplement to your anti-aging regimen. There is no skincare miracle product that can work at the cellular level the way a well-formulated supplement can.

Thankfully, modern scientific researchers have developed many skincare breakthroughs so you don’t have to just sit back and age gracefully.

While most of us have tried skin serums and creams to ward off the visible signs of aging, there are several dietary supplements that have been shown to help keep your skin looking younger. There is a reason that not all skincare products work effectively --  only certain ingredients have a small enough molecular structure to penetrate the skin and work their magic. The rest of the ingredients just sit on top of the skin and impact the very top layer. This does nothing to have a long term impact on the skin.

Anti-aging supplements, though, can often work at the cellular level. Think of it as beauty from the inside out. Not all supplements are created equal, though, and we understand that knowing which ones to buy can be confusing. Some beauty supplements are nothing more than hype -- or contain such a minimal amount of beneficial ingredients that there is no visible skin impact.  We wanted to take the guesswork out of which ones to try, so we have spoken to industry experts to help you find the best supplements that are available today in the beauty arena.

Antioxidants are a good place to start. In fact, if you take a peek in the medicine cabinets of leading dermatologists, you will likely find antioxidants, which help fight free radical damage. Dr. Amy Wechshler, author of the best-selling Mind-Beauty Connection tells us, “Ingesting antioxidants combats the oxidative stress and damage done to cells by aging, stress, smoking, and UV rays.”

3 Beauty Supplements We Recommend

1. Dull skin? Perricone MD Skin Booster may help to boost your skin's radiance. This product contains Astaxanthin, green sea algae, to help with collagen support, as well as to help protect against ultraviolet damage. Sicilian blood orange extract is rich in Vitamin C and anthocyanins, which are flavonoids and may reduce the look of hyperpigmentation spots and help boost skin luminosity.

2. Do you notice loose, sagging skin? Collagen breaks down as we age. Collagen is what helps keep the skin plump, strong, and firm. Once it starts breaking down, skin begins losing its firmness. GNC Collagen contains collagen and hyaluronic acid to support the skin and nails. Like other supplements, results don’t happen overnight, but in about 3-4 weeks you will likely see a plumper, healthier appearance.

3. Do you have acne? Perhaps the most promising supplement on the market for those suffering from acne, particularly cystic acne, is Jane Iredale Accumax Supplement. This product contains an effective combination of antioxidants, such as Vitamins A, C, and E, as well as Diindolylmethane, which is naturally found in broccoli and other veggies and is believes to help ease skin congestion.

5 Budget Beauty Bargains We Love

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Don't be a product snob! I used to be.

To think of the products I missed out on because of the notion that "I only use organic/green/luxury/natural/beautifully packaged" products. Enough already.

The drugstore, Target, Walmart, Amazon, and your local grocery store may very well just have some of the best beauty and skincare products you've ever tried.


Here are five freakin' fantabulous products you'll regret not trying:

Freeman Polishing Charcoal + Black Sugar Gel Mask + Scrub -- If this product nixed the synthetic fragrance, it'd be near skincare perfection. I have tried so many charcoal masks, from Beautycounter and Origins to GlamGlow and The Body Shop and Posh. None are as good as the Freeman for just $3.27. Seriously. I have used this one for 2 weeks now and love it more each time. There are multiple skin-perfecting ingredients, including Kaolin, Banana Fruit Extract, Papaya, Raspberry, and more. It helps to pull out the "gunk" from your pores, but does so gently. It scores an A+ in my book.

There are many amazing drugstore mascaras. I love Maybelline Full & Soft and L'Oreal Voluminous. Another tried and true was a repurchase of Rimmel Extra Super Lash. It had been more than 10 years since I last used it and I had a HORRIBLE budget mascara (Essence Beauty in black & mint green tube) that was the worst purchase ever in recent memory. I stumbled upon a two pack of Rimmel at Walmart for $4.47 & bought it. It's really lovely.

Speaking of Essence Beauty, it's not all bad! While I didn't like the mascara, I love the Make Me Brow. It is a gel brow mascara and it is a great dupe for Lancome Modele Sourcils. I use it over my NYX Brow Sculpt & Contour.

Another rave -- at Walmart, I found LA Color Craze Nail Polish. I bought shade 788. I had low expectations for this since it was $0.98, but it is actually pretty good. Well worth the buck and much better than other cheap polishes like Sinful Colors. It's not Essie, OPI, Butter or Zoya, but it is a great pedi color.

Lastly, I have mentioned Alpha Skincare before. It's high end caliber, well-formulated skincare at an affordable price. I use their AHA cream daily and the Enhanced Wrinkle Repair Cream (.15% Retinol) at night. It is a great gentle retinol with an effective concentration for sensitive skin and at the right pH. It works. Try it!

The Beauty Writer's Guide to Exfoliation: Under $20 Edition

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Exfoliation is one of the most overlooked steps on people’s skincare regimens. It is also one of the most important. People seem to be aware of the fact that using an exfoliant is crucial, but they are often unsure of why it’s necessary.

An Intro to an Essential Skin Care Step

The skin that you are seeing right now is actually dead skin cells. It sounds far-fetched, but your skin sheds approximately 35,000 skin cells per minute. It is part of a 28-cycle where our skin is constantly exfoliating itself. This process slows down around the age of 35 and skin may appear bumpy or uneven and dull as if it has lost its glow.

These skin symptoms are caused by an accumulation of dead skin cells on the sratum corneum, or the top most layer of the skin. When we exfoliate the skin, we are speeding up cell turnover by sloughing off the accumulated dead skin cells. The result? A fresher, more radiant complexion with a smoother texture.

Exfoliation also helps your other skin care products work better. Picture an old door that you would like to repaint. The door is peeling, with layers of paint and environmental debris. If you attempted to paint over the door, the door would still be peeling and worn. It would be uneven and the painted would not be smooth and flat. Instead, what would you do first? To get a smooth paint finish, chances are you would scrape off the old paint, sand it down, and prep it for the rest of your painting.

This concept can be applied to your skin. If your skin is dull and uneven with an accumulation of dead skin cells, your other skin care products will not work as efficiently. Once you have exfoliated, however, the active ingredients in your skin care treatments will penetrate more deeply and reach the pores. Another perk? Your skin will look younger with regular exfoliation.

Mechanical vs. Chemical: Which is better?

There are two main varieties of exfoliation, each with its own advantages. It’s a matter of finding the best treatment for your skin’s needs.

What does the Derm say?

I recently talked to board-certified dermatologist Dr. R. Sonia Batra of Batra Dermatology in Santa Monica, CA to get the scoop on skin sloughing. She broke down the two key types of exfoliation -- mechanical and chemical -- and explained the benefits of each.

Mechanical Exfoliation

Mechanical exfoliation, or physical exfoliation, uses scrubs, sponges, microdermabrasion and brushes to buff off dead skin cells. Dr. Batra recommends this form of exfoliation to older people whose skin is becoming dry or showing signs of dullness, as opposed to those with oily and acne prone skin.

Just say NO to nutshells: What to look for in a manual exfoliant

  • When choosing a facial scrub, be sure it is free of nut shells, as they can scratch the skin and do more harm. If it contains nuts, be sure it says "flour" after it on the ingredients list.
  • Avoid scrubs with polyethelene beads, as these are bits of plastic that harm the earth. 
  • Look for natural fibers in sponges and brushes as opposed to synthetic. 
  • Mechanical exfoliation should be done no more than twice a week. 

Products to try:

Acure Organics Brightening Facial Scrub is right around $10 and if gentle and effective. This reminds me of the brightening scrub from 100% Pure, but I like this one more and it is much less expensive. It is rich in antioxidants, including pomegranate, blackberry, and acai. Walnut shell flour very carefully scrubs, while lemon peel helps brighten and exfoliate, This one also contains Rooibos and kelp.

One Love Organics Cleansing Sponge is made of 100% pure plant fibers and bamboo charcoal to gently exfoliate and clean the pores. Simply apply your gentle cleanser to the sponge and use instead of a traditional washcloth.

Chemical Exfoliation

Chemical exfoliation is different. You may hear it referred to as chemical peeling, even though a true chemical peel is not a procedure one would do at home. A chemical exfoliant involves the use of skin care products formulated with hydroxy acids (alpha, beta, etc.), retinoids, or enzymes to loosen the connection between skin cells and stimulate cell turnover. Chemical exfoliation can remove several layers of skin, help correct sun damage, and treat wrinkles. Dr. Batra recommends this type of exfoliation is for acne prone skin. NEVER use a manual (scrubby) exfoliant on acne. It is one of the worst things you can do!

Choosing the right chemical exfoliant

  • Beta hydroxy acid (look for salicylic acid) is best for acne, blackhead, whiteheads and rosacea. BHAs, unlike other hydroxy acids, can penetrate and unclog the pores. Another benefit of BHAs is that they are anti-bacterial. 
  • Alpha hydroxy acids are best for sun-damaged or dry skin. These acids cannot unclog pores. Of the different AHAs, glycolic has the smallest molecular size and is best able to penetrate the skin. 
  • Retinol (topical Vitamin A) works to encourage cell turnover from the deepest layers up, as opposed to working primarily on the outer layers. It is effective for deeper wrinkles. 
  • Fruit enzymes are ideal for congested skin. Looks for products containing pineapple or papaya, because they contain bromelain and papain to lift off dead skin cells. 

Chemical exfoliants to try at home:

 AHA/BHA -  Nip + Fab Glycolic Fix Night Pads are the perfect sloughing cocktail. Glycolic acid helps to improve the look of patchy, flaky skin while the salicylic acid works to unclog bacteria from the pores. Hyaluronic acid (not an exfoliant -- but plumps and softens). These come in pad form and are very affordable.

RETINOL - Alpha Skincare Enhanced Wrinkle Repair Cream with 0.15% Retinol  targets deep lines and wrinkles over time using a stable form of retinol. The packaging is great, as it properly protects the retinol to keep it stable. I use this one every night and it works as well as products 5 times more expensive.

FRUIT ENZYMES - There are a couple enzyme based exfoliants I love, but not this affordably priced. The one I am really loving that is super affordable is Garden of Wisdom Pineapple Red Wine Enzyme Gel. You leave this light, gel-like mask on and the enzymes do their magic, lifting off the dead skin cells. Burgundy wine is also present.

SALICYLIC ACID - For an exfoliant that is strictly BHA based, you cannot go wrong with Humane BHA Clarifying Toner Blackhead and Pore Minimizer Salicylic Acid 2%. On Amazon, it is around $18 and the ingredients are very good.

You can get too much of a good thing.

A word of caution when it comes to skin exfoliation. Many people are so happy with the results they see from their exfoliation that they decide to do it daily instead of as recommended. Excessive exfoliation can damage the skin and even make you look older. Use your products only as recommended and you’ll see your long-lost glow beginning to return.
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