Summer Skin Prep: Exfoliation

Why is exfoliation an important part of your skin care regimen?

Exfoliation refers to the removal of the dead skin cells on the skin’s surface. Our skin cells are in a constant state of migration and replacement. In approximately one month’s time, skin cells move up to the surface of the skin ( the epidermis), where they eventually die, break away from cell cycle

the epidermis, and fall off, making room for newer cells growing up from below. Therefore, the skin you have a month from today will be different compared to the skin you have now.

Our skin’s cellular renewal rate slows down when we age. This is because there is less blood circulation, less oxygen is delivered to skin cells, so they are not replaced as quickly. This leads to a buildup of dull, dead surface cells and rough skin texture. When this build up occurs, skin conditions such as uneven skin tone and texture, fine lines and wrinkles, and pore size enlargement are more prevalent. Furthermore, if your skin tends to be more oily, the build-up of dead skin cells can result in excess oil and clogged pores, leading to blemishes and acne.

Proper exfoliation removes the barrier of dead skin cells clogging the skin and uncovers fresh new cells below. This opens the way for serums and moisturizing products to penetrate more deeply into the skin, which makes them more effective. A regular exfoliating routine will leave your skin looking more vibrant and healthy. The type of exfoliation and frequency will vary by skin type, issues, and sensitivity.

Retna copyright, please save in library woman smiling wet hair flannel washing face retna


Exfoliators Explained:

There are 3 types of exfoliators: 1) mechanical, 2) chemical, and 3) enzymatic. While mechanical exfoliators physically remove dead skin cells through a scrubbing action, chemical and enzymatic exfoliators work on the bonds, which hold the skin together.

Mechanical Exfoliation:
Mechanical exfoliators include scrubs and micro-dermabrasion. Be careful to only use round, spherical beads in mechanical exfoliation or it can create micro-tears and worsen your skin’s texture. Do not use mechanical exfoliation if you have broken capillaries (teleang­iectasia).

Alpha Hydroxy Acids:
What they do: They cause the cells of the epidermis to become “unglued” allowing the dead cells to slough off, making room for regrowth of new skin. AHA may even stimulate the production of collagen and elastin. The following are the five major types of alpha hydroxy acids found in skincare products and their sources:
•glycolic acid – sugar cane
•lactic acid – milk
•malic acid – apples and pears
•citric acid – oranges and lemons
•tartaric acid – grapes
AHAs are reported to improve wrinkling, roughness and mottled pigmentation of photodamaged skin after months of daily application. AHAs are recommended for all skin types but note any allergies given the type of acid used. Gentle AHA exfoliators (lower percentage acid with the addition of calming actives) are recommended for mature skin types and for rosacea.

Enzymatic Exfoliators:
Enzymes have a proteolytic effect and induce superficial exfoliation on the cells of the stratum corneum. Exfoliating enzymes remove the dry superficial, dull skin cells by digesting the proteins into smaller fragments, preventing a build-up. The most common enzymatic exfoliators are naturally derived from pineapple and papaya. Pineapple contains bromelain; Papain is an enzyme found in unripe papayas. Enzymatic exfoliation is recommended for skin that has a thicker stratum corneum and for oily skin types. It is not recommended for use on sensitive skin.

If you choose the appropriate exfoliator for your skin type, you should exfoliate every week for best results.

Kombucha in Skin Care: A Scientific Link?

KOMBUCHA also called “long-life fungus” is a product of the fermentation of sweet black tea by the symbiosis of two micro-organisms. Rich in organic acids and vitamins, Kombucha is well known as a beverage in Russia and China and is believed to confer longevity.

Fermented Kombucha


So what does Kombucha do, if anything, when used in skin care?   According to Sederma, a company that has a patent on a form of Kombucha used in skin care and has conducted clinical studies on the active ingredient, it “possesses anti-glycation activity and a re-densifying effect on the adipocyte population.”  In other words, “Kombucha improves the skin’s overall quality by enhancing the skin’s radiance, density, and color.”

Anti-Glycation and Increased Adipocyte Population:

kombucha 2

Glycation is a process by which proteins, certain fats, and glucose tangle together. It affects all body tissues, and tends to make them stiff and inflexible. Glycation causes most problems for organs where flexibility is most important, such as the heart, kidneys, skin and eyes.

Once it has become glycated, the tissues start to produce ‘glycotoxins’, such as Advanced Glycation End-products – or AGEs, which are damaging to our cells. AGEs do this in two ways, both of which promote aging: they produce free radicals, and increase inflammation.   Kombucha inhibits glycation (in the above study by 79%) and also increases the adipocyte population  (a cell specialized for the storage of fat, found in connective tissue) in the above study by 136%, thus restoring volume in the skin.

Radiance and Smoothness:

Sederma’s research also demonstrated that Kombucha smoothed the skin and increased luminosity as perceived by 75% of volunteers as well as clarity for 81.3% of volunteers.

kombucha 3

My synopsis based on the research and my experience with clients/patients who have mature skin and use products with effective levels of quality Kombucha is that it does indeed improve the volume of the skin and add brilliance to the skin.  It is an efficacious natural element that works synergistically with advanced clinical active ingredients.

Spring Skin: Top Skin Care Ingredients recently published an article on top skin care ingredients. Let’s take a look at the top tier (in no particular order) and SkinPhD’s products containing these ingredients.
1. Ceramides
What they do: Ceramide is the main component of the stratum corneum of the epidermis layer of human skin. Together with cholesterol and saturated fatty acids, ceramides create a water-impermeable, protective layer to prevent excessive water loss due to evaporation as well as a barrier against the entry of microorganisms. With aging there is a decline in ceramide and cholesterol in the stratum corneum. Ceramides are related to our #2 ingredient…
2. Niacinamide
What it does: A form of Vitamin B3, Niacinamide can stimulate new collagen synthesis and up-regulates epidermal ceramide synthesis with concurrent epidermal barrier benefits.  Niacinamide is also clinically known to treat pigmented lesions and, through its anti-inflammatory agents, effectively treats acne and rosacea.

SkinPhD Products with Niacinamide

retail pigmentation controlIMG_9092Liposome C&E Serum

Pigmentation Control          Even Tone Serum          Liposome C&E Serum

3. Grape Seed/Grape Stem Cell
What it does: High in antioxidant properties, polyphenols, and resveratrol that significantly reduce free-radical damage and combat wrinkles, this ingredient is a powerhouse for anti-aging.

4. Mineral Hematite
What it does: This mineral, known for its energy and high in iron, reinforces the mechanical properties of the skin and rebuilds the fibril network. It helps to re-densify the
epidermis and fights against thinning of the skin. Mineral Hematite is more effective at Type I Collagen Production than is Retinol.


Hematite Grape Stem Cell Serum

5. Retinol
What it does: Retinol is Vitamin A; it promotes the enzyme activity in the skin, thickens the epidermis, increases collagen resulting in improved texture and enhanced barrier function.

E&A web size

SuperOxidant E&A Serum

6. Linoleic/ linolenic acids
What they do: These fatty acids replenish the skin’s intercellular matrix and act as a protector. They contain a natural tocopherol concentrate as antioxidant and make the skin look younger while giving it a radiant shine.  They soothe dry skin and have anti-inflammatory properties.

Day Care Lotion

SkinPhD Cosmeceutical Day Care Lotion has Linoleic/ linolenic acids and is clinically-endorsed for sensitivity

7.  Hydrolyzed Soy Protein 
What it does: Extracted from GMO-free soybean, this regenerative active is obtained by gentle hydrolysis ensuring a balanced composition in peptides (rich in essential amino-acids). By increasing the cell energetic potential, it stimulates cellular renewal, thereby helping improve skin radiance. Studies show that these derivatives inhibit environmental damage, reduce irritation, improve skin texture, build collagen and fight sun damage.  SkinPhD products that include non-GMO soy protein:

Platinum Perfect Defense Serum retail eye care balm

Perfect Defense Serum                   Eye Care Balm

8. Vitamin C
What it does: A free radical scavenger, Vitamin C activates collagen synthesis and influences the metabolism of amino acids. It inhibits the synthesis of melanin that leads to even tone and lighter pigmentation while protecting the cells against UV-damages by scavenging free radicals and preventing the lipids from peroxidase. Encapsulated Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate is a very stable form of Vitamin C.  SkinPhD Products with Vitamin C

Liposome C&E Serum IMG_0199 pap_enzy

Liposome C&E R                                   Razor Relief                              Papaya Enzymatic

9. Alpha Hydroxy Acids
What they do: They work mainly as an exfoliant. They cause the cells of the epidermis to become “unglued” allowing the dead cells to slough off, making room for regrowth of new skin. AHA may even stimulate the production of collagen and elastin. The following are the five major types of alpha hydroxy acids found in skincare products and their sources:
•glycolic acid – sugar cane
•lactic acid – milk
•malic acid – apples and pears
•citric acid – oranges and lemons
•tartaric acid – grapes

AHAs are reported to improve wrinkling, roughness and mottled pigmentation of photodamaged skin after months of daily application.
AHA have been shown to promote smoother, younger looking skin by increasing the rate of cell renewal.

Exfol-AHA 7 Fruit Exfol-AHA Gentle

AHA 7 Fruit  Amidroxy                             AHA Gentle Exfoliating Cream 

Chocolate and Skin: A Love Story?

Holly Harmon, LE, LMT VP Aesthetics and Training, SkinPhD

Holly Harmon, LE, LMT
VP Aesthetics and Training, SkinPhD

Is Chocolate Actually Good for You and Your skin? To answer that question, we must first quchocolatealify the type of chocolate that has benefits, which is at least 70% dark cacao (preferably organic cacao). We are not talking about the processed chocolate laden with sugar and milk.

Made from the cacao seed, dark chocolate is filled with organic compounds that are biologically active and function as antioxidants. These include polyphenols, flavanols, catechins, among others. It also contains soluble fiber, and is packed with minerals such as magnesium, iron, copper, zinc, sulfur, and calcium. The fatty acid profile of cocoa and dark chocolate is excellent and it also contains stimulants like caffeine and theobromine.

The Facts: Chocolate and the Skin
The Institut für Experimentelle Dermatologie, Universität Witten-Herdecke, Germany conducted a study on the ingestion of high flavanol cocoa containing 329mg of antioxidants. The results demonstrated:
• an increase in blood flow of cutaneous and subcutaneous tissues.
• increases in skin density and skin hydration.
• skin thickness was elevated.
• transepidermal water loss was diminished within the same time frame.
• the skin surface showed a significant decrease of skin roughness and scaling.

In summary, dietary flavanols from cocoa contribute to endogenous photoprotection, improve dermal blood circulation, and affect cosmetically relevant skin surface and hydration variables. Dietary antioxidants contribute to photoprotection and are important for the maintenance of skin health, while minerals nourish the skin, and stimulants increase circulation.

So What about Chocolate Products applied to the Skin?chocolate facial treatment
Our skin absorbs things that are applied to it. It fact, some elements can even enter the bloodstream through topical skin application (think medicinal patches). So, when applying dark chocolate (70%+ Cacao) topically to the skin, the antioxidants and minerals nourish the skin while the fatty acids hydrate, and the stimulants increase blood circulation. The result is the luminous glow of smooth, hydrated, healthy skin!

The Chocolate and Acne Connection…or Is There One?
Samantha Block, a second-year medical student at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, and colleagues studied 10 men aged 18 to 35 who had previously been diagnosed with acne. Under the researchers’ supervision, they ate as much pure (100% Cacao) chocolate as they wanted in one sitting, up to a maximum of three 4-ounce candy bars. chocolate bar
At the start of the study, the men had an average of three pimples. By the fourth day, the figure had jumped to 13 and by the end of the week, they had an average of 18 pimples.
Also, participants who finished less than one 4-ounce chocolate bar had fewer than 10 pimples a week later, according to the study, presented an annual meeting of the American Academy of Dermatology.  But the young man who ate the most chocolate — just about 8 ounces — had 70 pimples by the seventh day. “The numbers speak for themselves,” Block says.

This study may be an indicator but it is not conclusive. First, the sample size is very small. Second,  the study did not establish a control group who did not consume any chocolate. In addition, some of the ingredients in pure chocolate, such as caffeine and its cousin theobromine, might have exacerbated the existing acne.  The researchers are now planning a study of 28 people with acne in which some will be offered up to 6 ounces of pure chocolate and others will be given no chocolate at all.

So this study may be an indication of a connection between eating chocolate and acne but the jury is still out. Until there is substantive data, we suggest chocolate in moderation for acneic skin types.

In Summary…
Treat your skin this Valentine’s Day… Eat some dark chocolate and indulge in a luxurious Anti-Oxidant Facial with a Dark Cocoa Mask. Your skin will love it…and you will love the experience! Heck, we say throw in some Champagne too! Cheers!Laser Cocoa Mask_SkinPhD_Valentines4x6_2016

Mineral Hematite for Fabulous Holiday Glam Skin


Holly Harmon, LE, CLT, and LMT. VP of Aesthetics and Training for SkinPhD Cosmeceutical and Prescriptive Skin Care.

Mineral Hematite is a beautiful shimmery mineral that is high in iron andhematite
known for its energy properties. Hematite looks shiny black on the outside, but if you break the stone (not an easy thing to do!) you will see that on the inside,  Hematite has a deep blood red color. The name Hematite derives it meaning from the Greek word for blood. Hematite has high iron content  (almost 70%), which made it a popular healing stone for blood-related disorders.

For those who use and believe in stone therapies, Hematite is thought to have a strong grounding energy; one that you can feel that just by holding the stone in your hand. It also believed to have a cooling and calming effect, as well as to help develop concentration and focus. Overall, Hematite brings a quality of energy that is powerful, strong and grounding.

In Vitro tests show that when Hematite is pulverized and used in skin care, it significantly increases Type I collagen and regenerates the epidermis. It reinforces the mechanical properties of the skin and rebuilds the fibril network. It helps to re-densify the epidermis and fights against thinning of the skin. In fact, an ex-vivo study demonstrated that, after 6 days, Hematite induced a significant epidermal thickening and a very good cellular morphology
was clearly obtained. The same study showed that mineral Hematite is more effective at Type I collagen production than is Retinol!


So, if you are on the market for a clinically effective anti-aging skin care product that will induce the production of collagen and fight against thinning skin, look for Mineral Hematite!

Treating Acne with Diet and Effective Skin Care

Laura Hunnewell-cropped

by Laura Hunnewell, LE, Contributing Writer, SkinPhD Trainer

Treating acne can be confusing and frustrating- it hits us as teens, later in life as adults, some struggle their entire lives to treat acne and to prevent it. Seeking medical advice for diagnostic purposes should be your first step as to eliminate any medical concerns that could be causing your acne. Certain prescriptions for the skin can be irritating and drying. Harsh soaps can strip the skin causing dehydration which aggravates acne.


South African Honeybush

The SkinPhD® Clarify line was formulated to help fight acne and maintain healthy skin. It includes South African Honeybush extract, which is known for possessing anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidative, and anti-viral properties. Additionally it contains minerals such as iron potassium, calcium copper zinc magnesium and sodium and helps prevent irritation. The natural antioxidants found in Honeybush extract help to protect the skin from damage caused by free radicals and have an antiaging effect. The extract used in SkinPhD® formulations is organic and pure and contains no harmful substances.
Remember that even though your skin is breaking out, you still need hydration. Dehydration leads to irritation and flare-ups with acneic skin. If you are looking for a deeper cleanse try using a Clarisonic with the Clarify Gel Cleanser or a hot steam towel for evening cleansing.

Restore the skin’s pH level with the Clarify Toner spritzed directly on the face or on a cotton round or square. Finish with Clarify Light Day and Night Cream. The Clarify Toner and Light Day/Night Cream contain ACNACIDOL BG – a naturally occurring hydroxyl acid found in royal jelly combined with Sebacic Acid and 10-Decanediol. This active has significant impact on hyperseborrea, P-acnes and active sebaceous glands. Double-blind studies show a reduction

Clarify Light Day Night

Clarify Light Day Night Cream

(-176%) of active sebum spots and a reduction of (-392%) active sebaceous excretions within 1-hour period. The anti-bacterial capacity of the actives, strongly reduce the bacteria and micro-organisms measured during the study. These effects lasted for 28 days after the trial. Don’t pick because you don’t want to spread the bacteria to other areas on the face or create scarring. Remember, a routine is key to maintaining healthy skin.

Diet and Acne: A study published in the February 2013 Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics reviewed various clinical studies on diet and acne between 1960 and 2012 and determined that there is increasing evidence of a connection between diet and acne, particularly dairyfrom high glycemic load diets (refined and white foods -not whole grains- bread, rice, cereal, pasta, sugar, and flour products) and dairy products.
In addition, there is growing evidence that adding a probiotic to your diet can help calm inflammation with acne. While this hasn’t been proven, it certainly can’t hurt as well as maintaining a healthy diet of lots of fresh vegetables and lower dairy and sugar intake.

Have a skin care question?  Ask Laura!

The Semi-Precious Stone Zincite and Summer Skin

Laura Hunnewell-croppedby Laura Hunnewell, LE, Contributing Writer, SkinPhD Trainer



Platinum Flawless Day

SkinPhD® Flawless Day Cream has been a staple in the winter months when I am treating dry and flaky patches on skin. I was looking for a nice light moisturizer for a client who spends a lot of time in the hot sun working outside- and his skin is dry. I really believe this cream is just about perfect for any season-including summer. With ingredients like firming Hexapeptide-10 and the semi-precious stone Zincite, Flawless Day combines the powers of a cosmeceutical product with the soothing benefits of natural ingredients such as rosemary leaf and lemon root which collectively stimulate cell growth, brighten and even help calm a breakout. Clinical studies on the active ingredients have shown a significant reduction of fine lines and wrinkles in 3 months.



Some facts about Zincite: historically known for its power to reduce scarring, today we know it plays a role in growth and development of skin. The Zincite used in the flawless day product is derived from the blue green Smithsonite stone which embodies energy. One role of Zinc is that it helps to incorporate amino acids into proteins, resulting in increased elastin production. As we age, our bodies lose the ability to produce elastin. Applying regularly to the face and neck helps ours bodies to produce more elastin resulting in firmer skin.


benefits-of-black-tea1-300x230The Kombucha black tea in this product helps to create a natural looking radiance and even tone to the skin. Try applying a layer of the SkinPhD’s® Liposome C & E Serum first, then Flawless Day on top. You will be providing sufficient hydration to your antioxidant without a heavy feeling on the skin. When used daily it helps to fight against the damaging effects of harmful pollutants and even provides some natural sun protection.

Have a skin care problem or question? Ask Laura!
Ask Laura

Ingredients Haul: Peptides

skinphd2Peptides often play the star role in many anti- aging products, but  do they really deserve the spotlight? Let’s find out!

What are peptides?

In a nutshell, peptides are small chains of amino acids.  Amino Acids are what proteins  are made of.  As we get older  the skin produces less of a protein called collagen.  Collagen is a primary contributor to young supple skin.  Theoretically, once these small chains of amino acids are applied to skin,  it prompts cells to make more amino acid chains, in order to make a complete protein, or to complete the collagen sequence.

Are peptides effective?

Research has proven peptides are among the most effective at increasing collagen production, but not on its own, and at varied doses of application; you need a skin care cocktail to get the best results including ingredients that improve the fibroblasts and texture of the skin.

Bottom line?

Peptides are not the fountain of youth, but will help retain wrinkle-free skin if you start application early enough.  Most experts agree that a good time to start an anti-aging skin regiment is in your 30s, but for smokers, drinkers, or people who tan a lot, I’d recommend as early as 25 to get started.  The bottom line is,  peptides are a helper, but like most things, nothing takes the place of good health.

Want to know more?

Skin PhD has numerous products that utilize peptides in the perfect skin care cocktail, so they are most affective; tighter skin is a direct result of regular use.  click here to learn more.

Portrait of pregnant African woman

Pregnancy and skin care

Portrait of pregnant African womanPregnancy is no joke. I’m currently pregnant with my first child, a baby girl and now know this from experience. I only have one more month with the love of my life inside me and get more excited by the day, but watching your body go through so many changes can be stifling; I’m sure any mother would agree.

I was always one of those women who follow a skin care regiment, but during my pregnancy, my skin type changed. I noticed my neck and chest got much darker than my face. I also was very dry, especially my lips, and of course, stretch marks are a given.

My doctor told me a lot of these skin changes were due to the hormones raging inside me and that the dryness and discoloration would most likely go after the baby.  He also told me the stretch marks should become less noticeable after the baby too, but the better I take care of my skin, the lesser chance they have of hanging around post-pregnancy; which brings me to the meat of my rants.

I haven’t really been doing much for my discoloration. I’m very confident that it will go away after the baby. I say this because the discoloration solely a result from hormone imbalance.  If you were pregnant and you still have discoloration caused by the pregnancy, try Skin PhD’s Pigmentation control.  I like this cream because it naturally stops skin cells from overproducing melanin.

Not like discoloration, many doctors will tell you to start taking care of your stretch marks as soon as pregnancy begins, in order to give your skin the care it needs to repair damage.  I know a lot of women that swear by cocoa butter for stretch marks.  Cocoa butter is great for during the pregnancy, but after the baby, I would add Skin PhD’s Scar Away.  It’s made with soy proteins that help repair skin damage and reduce the appearance of stretch marks.

Most important advice I could give about pregnancy, especially for first time mothers, is even though you’re going through many changes, try to keep doing thing that make you feel beautiful.  Whether it’s getting your nails or hair done, a beauty regiment, or even a girl’s night.  These things will keep you feeling beautiful and sexy, which essentially leads to more happiness you get to share with the little one inside you!


Three reasons why body soap can be harmful to the skin on your face

clar_gel_cleanserI know  a lot of women (I being one of them), who use one washing cloth for the face, and another for the body.  In good hygiene this makes sense, but why don’t we use two different cleansers: one for our face and one for our body?  Whatever body wash you use, I’m sure makes your body feel clean, but here are three real reasons why you need a different cleanser for you face.

1. Body cleansers contain water softeners that irritate skin and leave the face feeling and looking dry.

2. The skin on the face is not as rough as the skin on the body. The surfactants in regular body soaps are too harsh, and strip the skin on your face of much needed natural moisturizers.

3. Body soaps often contain added coloring and perfume that might not irritate the skin on your body, but are especially irritating to the skin on the face.  Even people with skin disorders like eczema or psoriasis are recommended not to use these types of soaps.

honeybushYour face needs a cleanser that is mild, that doesn’t strip the skin of it’s natural oils, and that can help the skin on your face look better over time. Honeybush for its therapeutic properties and for its potent mineral and anti-oxidant materials. The Gel Cleanser, a part of the Skin PhD Clarify line,  is a great face wash made for everyday use.  Its made from a blend of fruit extracts that  nourish the skin while you cleanse.  The African  Honeybush plays the lead role, in this cleanser, for its therapeutic properties, potent mineral and anti-oxidants.  To learn more about this face wash, click here.