Thursday, September 5, 2013

Is what I eat causes acne?

Not directly. You can enjoy a chocolate bar and there is not a scientific evidence of that producing a pimple. In fact, there is not a single prove that eating meat or dairies will directly produce a pimple. I’m not a dietitian and please I am not pretending to be one.  What I’d like to share with you is what some of my clients have gone through regarding their efforts to stop breaking out. I have met some of them who adopted strict vegetarian life style and two years later they stay vegetarian not because they succeeded in curbing acne activity but because it made them feel better. I am not discouraging you to eat healthy. Eating healthy benefit your skin, your immune system, your brain and your over all health.

The mechanics involved in your body that contributes to produce a pimple are more complicated than adopting a good diet. The entire medical, beauty, religious and quackery establishments have dedicated some time coming out with their own theory to cure acne, or at least provide a relief to the damaging effects of acne. I am going to prove you, though, that eating well, exercising and feeling exceptionally unbothered every day are the simplest, effective tactics in how to win your personal battle against acne.

Let's start with some simple suggestions that you can effortlessly adopt today and engage in this battle.  
This is the list of eating habits that I highly recommend to follow and life style that I suggest for you to practice:

  • Drink water...plenty of water in the morning. Avoid any drink that contains too much sugar. If you enjoy orange juice or apple juice, stick to four once in the morning.
  • Eat 2 fruits daily. Especially a banana and any citrus.
  •  Avoid any drink that promotes energy or muscle growth. Those drinks trigger your immune system to act indiscriminately against very small tissues like any component in your skin.
  • Salty food are known to cause cardiovascular diseases, but before that takes place, there are other significant damaging factors done on your sweat ducts and tiny blood vessels. Keep in mind, your skin is a large dumping site. Your body excretes sweat and sebum through your pores, if these substances are loaded with compounds heavily salt saturated, this would create irritation in the mouth of your pores. 
  • Know what brings salty compounds into your diet. Chips, junk food, crackers, ham, bacon, instant soups, saturated fat. Avoid the majority of cheeses or reduce its consumption. 
  • Red Meat is needed. Whether we like to agree of not on this subject, red meat is what scientist have agreed upon to what made us who we are in animal kingdom. Eat it, but when you do so, combine it with steamed vegetables or salad. Stay away from mixing red meat with anything that is high in carbohydrates like rice or pasta. Eating meat twice per week is more than what your body will require.
  • Avoid drinks with caffeine or alcohol few hours before going to sleep. Sleep deprivation will prevent full cycle of healing events that are necessary to fight against body invaders like bacteria or germs.
  • Avoid meals with high content of carbohydrates after 3 P.M. Carbohydrates ingested at late afternoon or late at night are not going to be properly digest. This type of food left in your guts overnight will give life to corrupt energy and dangerous levels of glucose.
  • Exercise!!! Exercising your body will ensure that will perform exceptionally well. Physical activity produces energy and releases excess of toxics that otherwise it will poison your body.
  • Every morning tell that person in the mirror how happy you feel.
  • If you cannot honestly say that to yourself, then it is time to invest in some good source of enlightenment. Please not the T.V.!!!!! Order or buy a book. Sometimes we think we know it all and dismiss the idea of reading a good book.
  • And yes have that chocolate bar....if it makes you feel great. DO IT. Remember: stay unbothered.   

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Are dead cells really dead?

I heard this expression before: "The game ain't over until it's over." Superficial skin cells seems to play by the exact same rule. These soldier cells, the name I prefer to call them, are conveniently named dead cells. The reason, and I am theorizing here, is probably because the majority of them just happen to be on their final destination. Although these cells are not necessarily dead, one may say they are about to end their relationship with the skin. These top skin cell layers are one of the most unappreciated in the human body. We just don't give them the respect and admiration for their unique role of preventing or, at least, alerting upcoming younger cells of what lays ahead of them. Their unique role is to be our first line of defense for our bodies. These cells are partially cornified and deformed, however, their internal circuitry still able to transmit signals. The transmitted signals travel through their bodies in emergency "frequency" that alert younger cells of an imminent danger. Danger like how much pressure, heat, cold, toxicity, or abrasiveness. Those waves of information are rapidly passed along in fractions of seconds so the brain can act in timely manner.

These cells are also known to engage in suicidal missions when they "feel" that self-detachment from the main organ would prevent further physical damage to younger ones, as in the case of a burn or bacteria invasion. They are really good at transforming solar energy into many uses for the main body. Just as cells plants are able to transform sun energy into photosynthesis, our top layer of skin cells does a similar job. But because we are more sophisticated living beings in some senses, we demand and expect a lot more from our skin cells. Sometime these demands can certainly get us in trouble as in the case of dangerous sunbathing, excessive dehydration due to smoking or alcohol intake, neglect related to a stressful life, or simply the excessive use of cosmetics.

Even pores must rely on these cells. Pores are in charge of supplying proper moisture and keeping the skin surface cool. They could not get their job done if it would not be for our dedicated friends. When superficial skin cells begin "feeling" harsher condition like extreme dryness, they sound an "alarm" demanding immediate action from the pores to produce oil, sweat or the combination of both. In our teenage years and referring specifically to our face, the skin and its large networks of supportive tissues can produce an excess of oil and sweat causing to over enrich their delicate environment. This might create havoc on the surface. Too much of a good thing can generally give life or attract undesirable creatures like bacteria. Of  course, do not blame your superficial skin cells for this mess. Honestly, they are still doing their job. What contradicts their functions most of the time is that the brain is too busy handling a revolution of hormones and an overwhelming shifting of emotional period. In this period of growth, our brain may not attend to skin cells' request and simply might misinterpret their needs. You see, their living environment is known as Protective Acid Mantle and it most meet certain requirements to act as a shield. This Mantle, and I'm using my own interpretation, is the source of many surviving elements that superficial skin cells must have and count on every second.  It is like a bioelectrochemical mantle, providing energy through the use of organic waste mainly coming from the pores. This mantle supports nutritional needs, provides information like latest warning attacks from foreign matter, survival awareness updates, gene expression inputs and many others unknown factors that are deemed essential for the entire community of billions and billions of superficial cells. I will explain in another article these mechanics of how superficial cells interact and get in conflict with their Protective Acid Mantle. Make sure you stay tune.

Now, if so far you are still unconvinced why these "dead" marvelous things deserve some love and  respect, wait until I briefly describe their ultimate and most noble function. These dry leaves, as what they resemble through a powerful microscope, are in charge of laying out working  and surviving plans for future cell generation. Skin cells like any other cells in our bodies rely immensely on information coming from other cells. Even before detaching from mother skin, these older cells "teach" and alter the probability pattern of behaviour of younger cells. By recruiting, promoting and fostering adaptive fashion, older and experienced skin cells perpetuate a legacy of behaviour that plays a profound effect on their daily life as well as ours. They just don't quit and leave mother skin. They are also making sure they pass down their life experiences to a new generation. 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

What's the real benefit of facial anyway?

Interesting enough the word facial  appeals in our minds as  a mask application, a relaxing atmosphere, and a feeling of a cleaned face. Almost everyone may agree with this. Others might relate that facials are for people either with vain inclinations or absorb in some futile pastimes. Some others have learned to enjoy and benefit of a twice per month must-have facial routine. Whatever your notions might be about facials here are some insights that I hope you consider in the future.
Living in complex societies in the western world where, predominantly, appearance plays an important role, facials should be considered as a part of the grooming process. Furthermore, well orchestrated facials are an opportunity to bring about those sensations from your mother's love. Sensations that were impregnated in your skin since you were a baby. Studies have shown that when humans or any other mammals did not have nurturing and love-filled touches from their mother that can carry some strong possibilities of serious neurological and psychological adversities in later years. Those infant days full of mother's love have left some significant prints embedded into the memory of your skin cells. That pampering experience, the massage and kisses and even those smacks you received when you were little fomented your life experience but, unarguably, stimulated healthy growth within your skin cells. Those sensations spring back to life when you have a facial. Indeed, the simple cleansing massage, the invigorating deep tissue massage on your face, neck, and shoulder will have some profound effects on your wellbeing. Skin cells, in particular, respond to touch naturally. Their internal "wiring" system have been fundamentally design to carry, conduct, or deliver energy through touch. So please, do not underestimate the power of a good facial and schedule one as soon as possible. I promise you you will never regret this.


Saturday, August 3, 2013

About the Author

I have been a Medical Esthetician in the state of California for the last 25 years. I founded Upper Layers Skin Care back in 1998. It's located in the city of Hawthorne in Southern California. I specialize in corrective skin care and rejuvenating of the skin. My interest in skin care started by mere accident one hot summer day in September 1986. I was walking through a parking lot and not paying attention where I was going. At the same time, Mr. Mitchell, a well known skin care guru among the black community in those days, was leaving his office in Hollywood and placing some bags in his car, He did not notice me and accidentally hit me with his car door. That painful and unexpected experience led to a profound change in my life. We became friends and few months later he hired me as his janitor. Not a glamorous position but again, I was undocumented young immigrant eager to grab at any opportunity knocking, literally, not at my door but on my face!
Mr. Mitchell offered me the opportunity to be trained as a facialist in his establishment. I was under his umbrella of expertise for over 10 years. I learned and specialized in treating all common maladies that afflicts ethnic skin. Contrary to the old belief that lighter skin tones present more sensitivity issues, darker tones bring many unpleasant challenges when it comes to dealing with acne, melasma, scars, blemishes, dark spots, ingrown hairs, and age spots. Because its over-active melanin and aggressive collagen reactions, darker skin tones demands more knowledgeable, highly inventive, customized, and creative-laze treatments. I'm not shy to confirm that if you are looking for a person to treat your skin, I'm a connoisseur of good skin care products, well-informed, au fait, and in love with my profession. Feel free to contact me.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Melasma, Pregnancy Mask, Paño.....

Darkening of the skin, or also known as Melasma, is one of the most frustrating skin condition that afflicts mostly women. Generally, olive to darker skin individuals are more likely to be afflicted than their light skin counterpart. Cheeks, nose bridge, forehead, eyebrows, mustache, are the most common patterns of this annoying condition. The onset of this condition goes back as early as the teenage years when we are not in the position to listen to our parents' warnings. Early and careless exposure to sunlight at that age may set skin cells to remain sensitive to the sun. "But these dark spots appeared barely two months ago" is a common explanation that I get from clients who swear that they did not have anything like this before. Well, there is a partial fact on that. Skin cells and blood cells have been known to have good memories and, more likely, they don't forget early abuses. What we fail to appreciate at those younger years is the efficiency at which our skin repair itself, almost over night. A fun weekend and long hours under the sun would give us an attractive tan, then the skin would replace those superficial damaged cells and two weeks later, it would get back to normal. But deep in their micro bodies, those skin cells would pass down to other younger cells this experience and also the damage control process in how they successfully contained the abuse.

Skin cells, though, do not produce the darkening, melanin does. Melanin is a dark substance produced in the deep layers of our skin. It provides us a distinctive hair color as well as skin tone. The darker the skin the more melanin is present. Melanin in our skin acts very similar to the tint install on a car's windows. It protects the inside from the sun and maintains it cool. Unlike the car tint, the production of this a marvelous substance is automatic and it acts also as a defense mechanism. Superficial skin cells activate melanin production when they perceive a threat, mainly from sun exposure but not limited to. An easy way to picture how melanin covers the immensity of billions and billions of skin cells is by imagining a grapevine. It grows thicker at the very bottom of the dermis and expands its micro "branches" throughout  the epidermis in upward patterns. In fact, what we get to see with our naked eyes on the surface of our skin are just the massive amount of residues of this "tinting" manufacturing process. Its presence remains active throughout our life, though, losing its accuracy and uniformity as we grow older. Sadly, we all get to experience its flaws when we start seeing those "old age" spots. But again, most of those dark spots did not appear overnight.

By now, you should have a less blaming attitude against your superficial skin cells, but, wait, do not shift the blame to melanin, not just yet. Whenever we suffer an irritation, a burn, a cut, a scratch, or any deep injury on our skin, superficial cells are the most efficient and crucial living beings that get involve. They jump into action and trigger a massive cascade of emergency protocols. To name every single emergency protocol, we might need to write a book on the subject, so let's stay close to our topic. Massive production of melanin gets into high gear under those circumstances and you will find out why. Injured cells and tissues need to have a separate, delicate care from the rest of the healthy area. In theory, the darkening plays a guiding signal of identification for other specialized cells that are on their way to assist and repair. Once the repair is done and healing takes over, it is actually melanin what will effectively ensure that those cells and tissues continuously receives an extended care. Just imagine a warm blanket over your injured body. Melanin and collagen are more abundant in darker tones, for the better or for the worst, this is what define how long the actual darkening would remain on the surface.

So what all of that explanation has to do with Melasma? Well, melanin most respond to various commands from various sources. Its intrinsic and delicate mechanics, its chemical composition of melanin, its intimate relationship with healthy or damaged skin cells and the fact of being part of our immune system's response, this substance is subjected to a lot of demands . Remember that skin cells have very good memory as far as exposure to danger is concerned; it is their survival instinct to retain that memory in case of similar aggravations in the future. In theory, long sun exposure or deep and larger injuries can and will leave longer memory impressions on this organ called skin. And that is why melasma is a skin problem that needs special attention and customized approach. There are plenty of factors that could have triggered the darkening.

Pregnancy plays a significant roll due to the major changes that a woman's body will submit to but, in those cases, I always suggest to try out customized cooling masks and mild skin lighteners. This darkening will fade away as long as the person does not insist for intense treatments. Mild skin lightener products with small amount of Hydroquinone work well (Hydroquinone is an active ingredient always present in any bleaching cream. Over the counter carries the allowed amount which is 2%. Prescribed bleaching creams carries up to 10%.) Higher percentage delivers quick results but at a cost of producing irritation on the superficial skin cells. As mentioned before, what follows irritation is always the darkening of the skin. Faster relief but, honestly, you may be prolonging the problem.

Long term prescribed medicine take a toll on the skin. Medicine residues travel and accumulate at almost any part of our bodies. When those tiny foreign particles reach and remain on the walls of, lets say, blood vessels, especially on the surface of our face, they might trigger irritation. Once irritation stays constant, those blood vessels will emit signal of stress and the skin might interpret that as a threat. Remember, skin cells would not play around when it comes to protect their own and as soon as something triggers their stress response, melanin is the first substance that goes alone with it. An experienced skin specialist would differentiate between common melasma and this effect caused by long term medicine. This condition, though, can be very stubborn to respond to treatment as long as the person continues taking the medicine. Under this situation, I have observed that melanin deposits under the superficial skin cells become so thick that they resemble charcoal particles embedded in the skin.

Darkening also is associated with some work environment. Long hours under the sun will have permanent damage on the skin. If you have a darker complexion, you are fortunate that those skin damages will amount to cosmetic issues and premature aging. Sunlight can bring some very devastating effects on our skin. As it travels deep in our skin, it destroys all those delicate linings and connective tissues. Fortunate, melanin will mitigate most of that by turning exposed areas darker therefore blocking sun rays. On those cases, treatments can promote new skin cells to the surface and, as the skin is forced to repair itself, customized masks and moisturizers should be recommended to immediately manipulate and minimize the darkening effect. Few treatments are usually recommended and results depend on how consistent products application are applied and, something crucial, the person must wear appropriate hats. Sun protective creams are okay but one cannot rely entirely on those. They are just creams that act as sun filters but never should they be considered as an absolute sun protection. The sooner the person begins treatments, the sooner the damage will slow down and repair will follow. Delay to treat this condition will have cosmetic repercussions that last a life time. I also have observed some other skin imperfections that resemble moles or rough and elevated skin surface from clients who have been exposed to direct sun.

And then the typical melasma that, for the most part, appears after the 30th birthday. This is the most stubborn case. A common denominator among these clients who suffers this skin malady is the unfortunate fact that they have submitted their skin to A through Z treatments as well as products. In these cases, the essential part of the treatment begins by listening to them and their stories of what their skin has been exposed to. I have heard stories and seen devastating outcomes. One can only weigh and measure the extend of each case. I prefer, even against their expectation, to take a slow approach that allows the skin some time to recuperate on its own. Surprisingly, these clients are so demoralized about their skin appearance that they beg for quick and "intense" treatments! When the approach is intense by using higher hydroquinone formula, the lighting effect can be seen within 5 to 15 days. Redness will take place, a sign that superficial cells are getting irritated. The longer the exposure, the longer the problem will last. Let's keep in mind that darkening is an accumulation of some years of sun damage, aggressive treatments, poor diet or food containing excess of salt or sugar, stress, bad habits like smoking. As far as I'm concerned, there is not a quick fix to reconcile all of that in one laser treatment or chemical peel. The ideal approach is, again, to do  mild treatments and to use the lower strength of product formulation. It might  take longer to see some results but at least the skin is not being punished to do its job.
Another fact to take in consideration is the consumption of dietary supplements that promise a large variety of cures. They not only do not deliver their promises but have the potential of altering the inner works of the skin. When people decide to take those questionable juices, pills, and shakes, they inadvertently over load  all those sensitive tiny ducts with unfriendly chemicals. Those micro ducts expels sweat to the surface of the skin and that chemistry might trigger many unknown reactions. Salt also promotes similar reaction. As I always tell my clients, there is nothing wrong with eating fruits, vegetables, and drinking plain water. Stress generally affects all  our organs and body. Our skin, which I believe is the largest extension of our brain, receives and perceives all our despondent attitudes. I'm sure you know what I'm referring to. Those episodes when you feel down and your face will tell the rest of the story to the world. Yes. Your complexion changes and so your skin tones. I can't help sounding like I'm preaching to my audience; however, I'm trying hard to lay out all of those offending factors. I fully support a person who becomes aware that melasma is not a skin disorder that would go away over night. It will require customized attention to address it effectively. In most cases, I have either minimized it completely or my client learned what has been the origin or the triggering factor.  Good luck to you and feel welcome to drop your comments and I'll be happy to provide more suggestions. Thank you for reading.    

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Is the use of antibiotics helpful for acne?

Based on my long standing observation on those who previously have taken antibiotics, but have been giving up their use after seen minor improvements or no results, my conclusion goes well with the sincere practitioners who refrain from prescribing antibiotics to treat acne. The use of antibiotic should be limited to serious risk of infection. Bacteria in planet earth have long been existed, even before the human race. So just imagine how indomitable, potent, and diverse can these organisms can be. Antibiotics could offer some relief for acne only if a doctor takes a sample of this facial impurities on the surface and sends it to a laboratory. Results will determine the type of bacteria that are present. Obviously, having a professional to take a sample would be too much to expect and costly.  Another discouraging fact, it is the resiliency and adaptability of bacteria. In some cases the actual antibiotic produce the unintended outcome of bacteria mutation where bacteria may become meaner and stronger bacteria. Adding to the list of inconveniences, antibiotics are naturally unfriendly to our guts, and this can cause some uncomfortable digestive pain and unpredictable visits to the bathroom.

I don't want to sound too drastic on this critique of antibiotics, but if you want to consider that road, take smaller doses and for a short period of time. A month supply will give you an idea of how effective is for you. Like always when you are dealing with prescribed medicine, check with your doctor. As a suggestive information, keep in mind that bacteria as an organism needs food supply and warmer temperatures. Our skin provides them all these commodities for free! Over active pores, like I usually call them instead of implying something abnormal taking place in their inside, have a common denominator: producing more than what the actual skin needs to maintain proper moisturizing levels. Their over productivity of sebum is the root of almost all the cases of acne. Once a pore begins this vicious cycle, the clogging is what triggers a set of recurring patterns like festering all impurities trap inside, providing an exuberant environment for bacteria growth, and inciting irritation.

The ideal approach that works wonders is to find an experienced Esthetician who can coach you and help you to do a deep pore cleansing. By experienced Esthetician, I mean at least 10 years of uninterrupted career. Cleaning up your pores is the simplest yet complicated task. Pores structures are not uniform, therefore you need to have plenty of light, magnified lamp, a facial chair, a steamer, proper angle, and expertise. Please do not attempt to do it yourself -I don't even do my deep pore cleansing. If you live very far away from our clinic, nowadays with modern communication tools I will be able to coach and customize a recovery plan for you. Visit our website or call us, I only need a picture and your desire to tame this destructive skin behavior.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Is there any safe makeup for a person suffering from acne?

No. There isn't any makeup that will ensure relief for any acne sufferer. However, I won't dare to tell any women, in particular, not to use makeup. It's safe to say if you need to and you have to use makeup, well go ahead. My, almost a quarter of a century, experience in the function of the skin would not allow me to "bless" the reality of makeup application. Certainly, any of these makeup manufacturers will strongly disagree with me because they have invested tons of money in producing convincing literature. Their jargon makes a lie to sound scientifically convincing. I said "producing literature" because, for sure, they did not invest any money in improving  their product ingredient.
The skin maintains a protective mantle at all times. This protective mantle is mainly composed by the combination of sweat acidity, oil produce by the sebaceous glands, and some other byproducts generated by a large community of friendly bacteria and microbes that reside on the skin. This mixture is what determines a healthy skin, oily skin, dry skin, etc.  When artificial ingredients like makeup are added to this equation, this natural film becomes altered, abundant, or in some cases polluted. In the case of acne condition, the skin surface is already dealing with over-active oil glands. This excess produces inconvenience like congested, inflamed, and swollen pores. Compounds from makeup absorbed the oiliness on the surface, which sounds ideal, until the induced dryness triggers an automatic production of rich and thick oil from pores. As a result, this mixture provides a delightful environment for acne bacteria to flourish.
If you have to use makeup, use it. I suggest to minimize its application and time left on your skin and invest in a good face cleanser and moisturizer to help the skin to condition itself.