How to Dermaplane/ Don’t Try This at Home

Dermaplaning. How I love thee.

For those unfamiliar it’s an exfoliating skin treatment performed by facialists that removes tons of dead surface skin (and peach fuzz) using a razor blade. Basically, it’s a hard core face-shave best described by Cheryl over at The Cut who goes into detail of her experience getting the treatment- worth a read if you haven’t had it done. I love it because my face is hairy (I’m Italian what can I say?) and it fully removes that peach fuzz and top layer of skin so well that I obsessively touch my face for about a week after because it’s so soft. It gives a youthful and radiant glow plus your skincare will penetrate and work better not having the dry skin and hair barrier blocking its way. It’s a technique that’s been used for years and it’s so simple and non-invasive. You can usually add it onto any facial for $20 or so, but since I haven’t been to my facialist since forever, I decided to bravely DIY this treatment that’s admittedly best left to the pros.

Now let’s be clear, I really don’t recommend you do this yourself. We’re talking about taking a sharp, medical grade scalpel to your skin that could cut and permanently scar your face. But for me, I felt like after a few quick YouTube vids I could dermaplane with the best of em. (Side note: ever since I learned to roll sushi via YouTube I feel like I’m just a four minute tutorial away from learning anything. I somehow felt like I could repair our broken dryer after watching this video today but eventually called someone who actually knows what they’re doing.)

Anyway.

I was a little nervous getting started but I followed the tips on how to hold the blade at an angle and how lightly to press to a T. I was so gentle that I had to do a few passes to get results but that’s better than going nuts and hacking a chunk of skin off my cheek. Afterward I applied my Vivant Mandelic Acid serum which did sting a little on my sensitized skin (typical) but it was back to normal the following day.

I didn’t take a before and after because I didn’t think to, but the pic below demonstrates pretty typical results immediately after a treatment.

If you’re looking to try dermaplaning at home.. don’t. You really shouldn’t. But if you’re stubborn, stupid, pressed for time, and cheap like me, here’s what I used.

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These blades I bought from Amazon that received glowing recommendations. How could 39 people be wrong?

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It’s a lightweight curved blade with a plastic handle. The ones used by pros have a metal handle where you pop in disposable straight blades after each use. It goes without saying that they are extremely sharp. People in the reviews say they also use them in the kitchen as ultra sharp pairing knives. Let’s hope it wasn’t after they used them to shave the skin and hair off their faces because yuk if so.

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Photo credit: dermistique.com

If you do try it be sure to let me know how it goes but be careful and do your homework. Sharp objects and ignorance do not mix.

Post-Baby Skin Care: What I’ll Be Using to Get Rid of My Melasma (Round 2)

Well here we are, today is the day I’m giving birth to my daughter (Note: of course I’m not writing this in the delivery room, it’s actually the night before) and I’m once again planning my new skincare routine to banish the melasma that reared its ugly head from pretty much day 1 of this pregnancy. I actually think it never went away from the first pregnancy and just kept on building throughout this one. Either way, I’m ready to attack. I’ve done a ton of research and have come up with what I think is the best of the best as far as attacking pigment and restoring my skin without using hydroquinone or Botox.

Cleanser:

I was thinking about getting this Pigment Bar from PCA Skin, a medical line that I really like but I nixed the idea and will stick with my cleanser that I love. I’m just not sure how much help a cleanser is in fading dark spotting since it’s only on the skin for a few seconds and the ingredients are washed away. If you’re curious though, check it out- it’s a cool concept and people seem to really like it.

pca skin

Toner:

Hands down, one of the most effective things I’ve ever used on my skin has been Mandelic acid from Vivant, a line sold through skin pros and doctors that is really picking up steam in the industry for its skin-changing ways. Mandelic acid is an Alpha Hydroxy Acid extracted from bitter almonds, so it’s a safe alternative to hydroquinone (a skin lightener that really works well, but has safety concerns.) This 9% solution will help to lighten while also making my skin soft enough to allow the serums and creams to penetrate and work that much better.

vivant toner

Serum:

I was a little on the fence about this one so I ordered two and then canceled one. I wanted to get Skinceuticals Phyto + which I ordered from Amazon (before canceling) because of its botanical formula and kojic acid, a known skin lightener. In the end the shaky reviews mixed with the fact that I know Mandelic will definitely work were what swayed my decision to stick with a more potent formula. So I ordered Vivant’s Mandelic 3-in-1 Serum 15% which combines Mandelic with Lactic Acid, a combination that will lighten and brighten my skin without question.

vivant mandelic serum

Retinol:

Can I use a retinol while nursing? My derm thought so and she recommended Afirm, a Retin-A alternitive (sidebar: Terntinoin and Retin-A both break me out because they put the vitamin a into a cheap cream that’s all greasy terrible so I can’t use it anyway) that’s easily absorbed into the skin and gives the same results as a prescription retinoid at a fraction of the cost. A good retinol will diminish wrinkles, fade discoloration, and give better clarity and tone to the skin. Another interesting fact: Retinoids are the only FDA approved treatments for wrinkles. I bought the 3X, formula which amounts to a 0.6% retinol which is their strongest treatment. Again, I’m getting the higher percentage treatments for all of the formulations just because my skin is used to really active stuff.. Start with the 1% just a few times a week if you’re just venturing into the world of retinol, but really if you have wrinkles or discoloration to get rid of this is a really good place to start.

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Antioxidant:

I always use an antioxidant serum during the day to combat further damage (and you should too), so I’ll use Vivant’s Spin Trap serum with vitamins C&E. I’ve used this one in the past and for some reason it seems to keep longer than others, it doesn’t turn that dull color vitamin serums turn after just a few months which means its potency is also in tact.

vivant spin trap

Moisturizer:

I went out on a limb for this one. I’ve never used Nia 24 but I see it everywhere and am fascinated by it since it’s the only niacin-based product I know of. There’s a bunch of research they have on their site (independent from them) showing how niacin heals sun damaged skin and can even play a role in skin cancer prevention. Their signature treatment cream is this Intensive Recovery Complex, pricey at $118 but something I’ve literally looked at buying for years. Because it’s meant specifically for hyperpigment issues, I thought it would fit in perfectly with my whole skin-lightening regimen.

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SPF:

Good SPF is key when you’re using an active bunch of products like this. Even in the winter when you don’t think you’re getting sun exposure, you are. I’ve been using Coola SPF 30 Unscented Matte Tint as a daily primer and skin perfector. The look and feel is just like a slightly tinted primer that helps to even out skintone pre-foundation. I love Coola’s sunscreens, it’s an organic line that only does suncare so they do it really well. It’s basically a really good SPF disguised as a great makeup primer that will help even out my skin on days when I won’t be wearing foundation (which will be quite often in the coming weeks.)

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Oh- and I’ll be using my Dermaroller to get super maximum penetration and faster results. Read HERE and HERE to catch up on the magical wonders of Dermarolling (aka microneedling) if you missed my past posts on the subject, and keep an eye on Hautelook (get the app) because they often feature them for just $20 or $30.

Are At-Home Chemical Peels a Good Idea?

Tjaden: stop reading this now.

My facialist will kill me for  so much as thinking this thought. I’m an admitted over-zealous skincare fanatic who will try anything once. I’ll scrub, cleanse, exfoliate, peel, dermaroll, botox, and laser everyday of the week if I had the time and tools. (Imagine being able to DIY Botox!! Heaven..) Anyway, this melasma is really kicking my ass this pregnancy (I might post pics at some point as a ‘before’ if I have a good ‘after’ because it sucks that bad), so I’m already plotting my post-delivery skin refresh and I’m thinking about doing it myself. I need something that will really get deep down and kick out the old, damaged skin so I’m considering taking an acid and putting it on my face to burn off layers of skin without really knowing what I’m doing. It sounds crazy, but there are currently over 330 people on Amazon.com who say they have used this peel and not only have skin remaining on their faces, but they say their skin looks brand spankin’ new. Oddly, these reviews are good enough for me even though I can’t even find a damn website for this company! Sketchy right?

Are at-home skin peels a good idea? Should I take the plunge?

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My New Daily Sunscreen: Obagi Sun Shield SPF 50

I used Obagi Healthy Skin moisturizer for years. It was my go-to daily moisturizer with an SPF 35 and the right amount of hydration for year round protection. But then it was discontinued. Since I couldn’t scrounge up a bottle anywhere, I bought an EltaMD daily sunscreen from my derm which I like, but I’m finding isn’t enough moisture at times.

Enter Sun Shield, Obagi’s SPF 50 moisturizer that took the place of Healthy Skin. I never thought I needed an SPF that high, but seeing what the sun does to skin over time with my clients (not to mention horror stories of melanoma) has me pretty cautious. It’s worth it, especially here in Colorado where the sun is always out. This sunscreen has the same medium weight as the SPF 35 did, and it’s a matte formula so it isn’t greasy on the skin and makes a great primer for makeup. Obagi’s sunscreens typically get great scores from EWG’s site too, so I like that it’s a safe option from a medical line.

This will be my daily moisturizer from now on, glad it’s around $35 in a big 3 oz tube that typically lasts around 6 months.

sun shield

Caudalíe Beauty Elixir

Caudalíe’s Beauty Elixir is one of those one-size-fits all things that becomes a cult classic by mostly word of mouth. It’s a refreshing spray that visibly perks up skin and gives makeup a second life.

I use it on a damp Beauty Blender sponge to blend and set foundation and concealer but I also spray it on skin right before makeup as a last step prep. Most women carry it in their bags and use it throughout the day in place of powder to keep makeup fresh without looking chalky or heavy. It has been praised for shrinking pores, calming redness and breakouts, and adding a fine layer of visible hydration. I just know that my client’s skin looks much better when I use it which is why I’m on my 4th bottle.

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Elta MD UV Clear SPF 46

I ended up loving the Elta MD sunscreen that Dr. Pacheco gave me a sample of after my laser treatment so much that I bought it at my follow up visit. I bought the UV Clear SPF 46 which is moisturizing but still light weight and designed for temperamental skin. I tend to stay away from SPF over 35 because I feel like it’s too heavy, but I think this is one of the best daily sunscreens I’ve tried. It’s lighter than Obagi Healthy Skin SPF 35 that I used for a long time (but can’t seem to find anymore) and less expensve (around $29 with free shipping HERE at Dermstore.com) It’s also a safe formulation using zinc and not chemicals. Don’t just take my word though, there are 300+ raves on Dermstore from people who swear by it too.

Elta MD

                Elta MD UV Clear SPF 46