What is Cupping?

While this Jennifer Aniston pic circulates, so does talk of cupping and what it’s all about. The pic below her is of me several years ago when I first tried cupping treatments that would often supplement my Accupuncture. It’s used to treat pain, better circulation, and to just keep the general flow of energy in the body moving. My treatments were for my lower back which was trashed from hunching over too much while doing makeup.

A flame is quickly lit into the glass cup before the cup is put on your skin to create the suction. Your skin rises inside the cup as it reacts to the suction which doesn’t hurt at all. It’s this suction that improves the blood flow and energy as the cups stay on the skin for 10ish minutes. Check out this short vid which shows in more detail what it’s all about.

Cupping isn’t too pricey either, I remember it was around $20 added on to the price of Accupuncture, so on its own I can’t imagine it world be too much more.

My facialist does facial cupping (see here) to increase the circulation in the skin. It’s less intense (no fire!) than traditional cupping but you can often see rosier, healthy skin right after you’re finished. (Click here for a facial cupping vid.)

Cupping has been around since 3000 BC so it’s not something new. Find out more about cupping and its many uses here to see if it’s something that might help you.



Derma Rolling Using Vivant Rejuv Rx

I talked about derma rolling HERE in June when I started getting my skin back in order post-baby. Back then, I didn’t know what to use with my roller since the idea is to make little micro channels in the skin and then feed it something really beneficial. It’s important to pick a serum safe to use with a roller because you can do more harm than good by putting something to harsh into the deeper layers of the skin. Vivant’s Rejuv Rx is meant to go on the skin with or without rolling, but its effectiveness is amped up by the deeper penetration. It’s a peptide-rich serum with lactic acid that fights dark spots, redness, and skin sagging- a very effective way to get great looking skin without using hydroquinone.

How to Do an At-Home Facial

I’m a big fan of the at-home facial, and now that more and more masks use advanced ingredients that rival what estheticians use, it’s easy to have professional-grade glowy skin in about 30 minutes at home for a fraction of the cost. Here’s what I use for my own at-home facial routine.

I always start my facials with an enzyme especially if I’m doing extractions. I’ve been using Ole Henriksen’s Blue/Black Berry Enzyme Mask, a clear gel with fruit acids, lavendar, and Hyaluronic Acid so it’s hydrating as well as exfoliating. After about 15 minutes I remove it and then I steam my face with a hot washcloth before I extract all the yuk out of my pores. It’s a trick I’ve learned by getting great facials for years, they always start with an enzyme and some steam so your skin is softened and your pores are open making extractions easy and painless. It makes a huge difference especially if you’re using a great treatment afterward because your now clean and open pores will better absorb the ingredients in the next mask.

Now grab whatever mask you use that addresses your skin concerns. Since I’ve been trying to fade discolorations and get some radiance back, I use Priori’s Replenishing Masque twice a week. It’s a creamy formula superchanrged with vitamins, Lactic Acid, and moisturizers to nourish, exfoliate, and brighten skin. I see a huge difference in my skin’s overall appearance and texture right after I use it. I’ll still use a clay formula every now and again if I sense a breakout coming on, but I’ve really been favoring this more grown up mask that hydrates and delivers bigger results without drying.

If Angelina Jolie Dermarolls, So Shall I

In my laser-obsessed haze I totally forgot about my Dermaroller. I got it a while back from my estician extrodinare Tjaden at the Skin Studio here in Denver, but we waited to use it until my face had calmed down and gotten to a more peaceful state like it is now. Pigmentation issues aside, pregnancy really cleared up my skin – I hardly had a breakout the whole time and my skin is still in a good place now 11 days out from delievery (fingers crossed!)

Anyway, this little roller is covered in fine point needles designed to create micro punctures in the skin so it’s forced to heal itself which then brings new skin in that looks even better. It’s the same principle that’s behind laser treatments, just a different means of getting those results. It works for stretch marks, acne scars, pigmentation, and keloid scarring. I was Googling around getting more info about it when I saw THIS LA TImes piece about how well it works and how celebs like Angelina Jolie attribute their great skin to Dermarolling (a.k.a. microneedling) so I was excited to know that I already own a really effective treatment that I can use to start tackling my melasma right away.

I’ve totally oversimplified what it does, the article explains it better as does this vid from the show The Doctors below.

Here’s mine.

The box

The roller

The size

I’ll consult with Tjaden to get a specific regimen, but I’ve already used it a few times on my chest where i have some freckles (a nice way to say ‘sun damage’) but I only did one pass, not the back and forth like THIS article says to do. I also don’t know what to put on over it once I’ve rolled. If you use something like a straight vitamin c serum, it might be too acidic and burn my skin (!) since it’s all opened and vulnerable. Some say that the rolling is enough though and not to worry about products on top. I have some scary ‘before’ pics of my melasma from the delivery room with no makeup and my pigmentation in all of its glory, I’ll let the rolling begin and hopefully have some good ‘afters’ before long.

Do some research before getting one on the size of needles, construction, how to clean it, etc., HERE is a bunch of rollers on Amazon.com that start at around $20.

Apple Cider Hair Treatment

After the success of my Coconut Oil hair treatment I thought I’d tackle another DIY home beauty remedy I’ve been wanting to try for a while – rinsing my hair with Apple Cider vinegar. Gross. I think the idea of pouring warm vinegar all over my hair (and subsequently body) just wasn’t that appealing for obvious reasons, but seeing this John Masters Organics cider vinegar treatment at a recent trip to the store re-ignited my curiosity for what has long been one of the most popular (and easiest) home hair treatments out there. I convinced myself to go for it, but I’d mix my own – the John Masters version was mainly vinegar anyway with just a few natural extracts splashed in there to neutralize the scent, I thought I could get the same results at home for less than the $17 they were asking.

I thought the treatment was only used as a clarifier, something to remove reside from the hair and scalp but I was happy to find out how much more it actually does. I mixed together about 1 part vinegar to 3 parts water into a plastic cup. After shampooing twice (as I always do), I slowly poured the cider over my head until I felt it reach my scalp and trickle down the length of my hair. No rubbing or massaging required – just leave it in a few minutes to absorb and give it a quick rinse. This is about the time I started to worry about my thick, coarse hair not being conditioned enough to comb it out. I was sure I’d have giant knots and dried out hair without the usual slab of conditioner I carefully work into my ends – I thought I’d have to jump back into the shower and re-wash and condition to undo the mess I thought I was making.

I was pretty shocked when I was able to comb right through my hair (after my styling products were applied) just like usual. After it dried I could see that this was the best hair treatment I’ve ever used and my hair never looked better. It didn’t leave a squeaky clean feel like most clarifiers do (a good sign that some natural oils were left in) – instead it rinsed out enough reside and build-up to create a really intense shine. Best of all, my hair had a crazy amount of softness which I didn’t expect, it felt like I just left the salon with the kind of bounce and life that typically only happens after my stylist works her magic – but nothing I’ve ever created on my own.

Not knowing if it was just some crazy hair fluke, I did it again a week later. Again, magic. I’m addicted.

After my first treatment. Click to enlarge

I’ve read varying reports on whether it strips color from hair, but I’m not concerned about it since it’s so gentle and the John Master’s version claims to neutralize your hair’s pH that can get out of whack after coloring so it’s actually good to keep your color fresh. One thing of note: I used Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar ($5.50) some of the best around, it’s unpasteurized with a low acidic level. I read that the type of vinegar you use does make a difference since a high acid cotent can actually be too harsh and not deliver the same results, so grab a good quality vinegar – it’s still a fraction of the cost of the store bought treatment and worth every cent.

Best Skin Lighteners for Fading Discolorations

I’m slowly starting to figure out that the all-natural stuff just doesn’t make my skin look as good as it does when I throw something more advanced its way. I’d love nothing more than to use straight nuts and berries on my face, but unfortunately it’s not helping to fade out some old scarring and redness I have going on. Believe me, I’ve tried.

In the cluttered skincare landscape filled with claims and promises, I can say that skin lighteners typically live up to their hype and are worth a try. There are so many ways to fade out age sun spots (sounds nicer), scars, discolorations and add more clarity and tons of radiance, it’s just a matter of finding something that works for your skin (and budget). I’ve put together a list of skin lighteners I’ve tried and ones I hear work great- look into them to see which might be best for the changes you’d like to make in your skin.

Ole Henriksen Sheer Transformation $45:

I’ve read so much about this line and heard stories from people who are crazy devoted so I bought Sheer Transformation to see if I can kick out the last of my scarring and redness. It’s especially effective when used over Invigorating Night Gel but I use it over Obagi Exfoderm Forte that also has Glycolic and Lactic acids for cell turnover and brightening so it’s along the same lines. It’s a weightless gel/cream that absorbs quickly and gives your skin a dose of vitamins, fruit acids, and licorice for non-chemical fading and brightening. I love the way it feels so far, can’t wait to see the results.

Murad Rapid Age Spot and Pigment Lightening Serum $60:

Murad’s serum uses known skin lightener Hydroquinone (2.0%) for a quicker approach to fading out those age spots within weeks. Most people in their trials saw a difference in their spots in just two weeks in fact. If you’re looking for something to work quickly and effectively, this is a serum to check out. There’s still some back and forth about the safety of Hydroquinone (typically when it’s used in a much higher concentration), but it’s still regarded by many as the gold standard for skin lightening.

Estée Lauder Idealist $85:

Idealist has been the most effective in fading out the freckles on my chest that I’ve had since forever. It uses a more gentle approach so the results aren’t instant but if you hang with it you’ll definitely see even, more radiant skin in about a month with better and better looking skin over time. $85 is an investment, but so are the laser treatments I was looking into. I’m glad I found something much less invasive for a lot less money.

Iman Time Control Skin Tone Evener $16:

This treatment is the least expensive of the bunch and hydroquinone free. It’s meant for all skin tones, but it’s especially effective for fading spots on darker skin tones which can be harder to lighten.

Kiehl’s Clearly Corrective Dark Spot Solution $50:

Clearly Corrective is a new lightening serum free of silicones, fragrance, and parabens using vitamin c and white birch to get skin glowing. You should see some changes in just a few weeks with full results after 8, and continued use will help keep future spotting away.

Spots and uneven tone are easy problems to fix, so start with a skin evening treatment before thinking about Botox or more invasive things. You might find that your skin looks so great, you don’t need to do anything else.