Your Skin: What Works, and What Doesn’t

Liz Janowski, sonata laser aesthetics

As the VP of Sonata Aesthetics in Broomfield, CO, I am very fortunate to be able to try out lots of skin care products. I get to try lasers, peels, any number of devices, as well as all types of skin care products. I will volunteer to be the guinea pig for any service, and I Iove learning about new products and technologies. Even before my time at Sonata, I’ve been fanatical about trying out skin care products. When I was young, and couldn’t afford to buy products, I would make my own – from mayonnaise hair masks to oatmeal scrubs.

As a new Mom and 36 year old business woman, my time has become much more limited. I don’t have the luxury of soaking in the tub with my homemade scrubs, or getting the latest spa facials with my girlfriends. However, with such limited time what I have learned is what products and services work for me, and what are fun, luxury items that just don’t give me results.

So, this year, I am committing to myself to do what works and have my most beautiful year ever. I spent 2013 pregnant, and 2014 with a newborn, (When pregnant and nursing, your beauty routine and skin care options are very limited!) so I am seizing 2015 as my year! And, I encourage you to do the same. Use what works everyday, and keep the rest as fun, luxury items.

Get your best skin ever!

What really works:

(1) Retin-A: Retin-A has been around almost 30 years, and it continues to be one of the most recommended anti-aging skin care products (watch a video here). Why? Because it works. Retin-A (or the less potent, but still very effective Retinol) has been studied extensively. What Drs and scientists have learned is that Retin-A and Retinols promote healthy cell turnover, keeping the skin firm and elastic, as well as promoting youthful skin. Retin-A actually works to remodel skin on a cellular level. What this means is healthier, smoother skin. Retin-A also helps the skin produce new collagen. Collagen is what keeps our skin looking youthful, smooth, and tight. Even more amazing, Retin-A prevents the rise of collagenase after sun exposure (which is important in high elevations, like Colorado!). Collagenase is what breaks down collagen. So, Retin-A can stop photo-aging before it even begins to take a toll on skin color, tone and texture.

Upon first use, Retin-A can irritate the skin. You have to build up a tolerance to it – starting with a lower formulation or a time-released retinol, and also using the product only every 2nd or 3rd night. Over time, your skin becomes more tolerant and you can use higher formulations and begin using the product every night.

All I can say is, three cheers for Retin-A. Use it and your skin will thank you for years to come.

(2) Sunscreen: Hopefully, we all know by now that we have to use sunscreen. Every day. Even when it is cloudy or when you plan to be mostly indoors. Sun damage is the number one cause of skin damage, wrinkles, and hyper-pigmentation. However, most of us (including me) aren’t using the best sunscreen, aren’t using enough it, and aren’t using it as frequently as we should be.

Firstly, the best sunscreens have both a chemical and physical block, like the Obagi line. The physical block, like Zinc Oxide, sits on top of the skin and prevents UV penetration. It is what makes most sunscreens white and sometimes thick or tacky feeling. The chemical block uses chemicals to absorb the sun’s rays and convert them into a less damaging form of radiation. Ideally, your sunscreen has both the chemical and the physical block – protecting your skin on both levels. You also want to use an SPF of 30 or 45.

What I know I could be doing better is re-application. Sunscreen only lasts about 2 hours. I am great about applying it in the morning, but if I go for a walk at lunch, or when I drive to pick up my son from daycare, I never reapply, and all those UV rays are frying my skin.

What we sell, and what I am going to commit to using is Glo Minerals Protecting Powder. Its a brush on sunscreen powder – so you don’t have to smudge your make-up. And it is easy enough for me to toss in my purse and then (hopefully) remember to reapply whenever I plan to pop out of the office.

(3) Clarisonic Cleansing Brush: I’ve been using the Clarisonic cleansing brush daily for almost 3 years. Not only is it fun to use, (the vibrations feel like a massage) it works. Your skin will just be clearer, healthier, and less acne prone. It cleans the face 8 times better than using your hands alone, and is incredibly gentle on sensitive skin. I use it in the shower every morning, and it keeps my skin clean and healthy, without having to use a harsh physical exfoliant scrub that can tear at the skin. I think everyone – teen, woman, and man – should use one, every day.

(4) Latisse: Latisse is a prescription treatment to grow your own thicker, darker, and longer eyelashes. (Anecdotally, it can also help you grow thicker, more even eyebrows.) It takes about 8-12 weeks of consistent nightly application to see growth, but it works. I get comments on my lashes everyday, and I love putting on mascara in the morning and seeing my long, lovely, thick lashes. Having beautiful lashes makes me feel beautiful.

I have very fair skin, light blue eyes, and almost blonde lashes – and without Latisse, I have no significant lashes to speak of. I love Latisse. It is easy and affordable, and it works on everyone.

(5) Growth Factors: Adding in a growth factor is the newest part of my skin care routine, and now I feel it is what I cannot live without. I love both the Obagi Regenica Growth Factor system, and the Skin Medica TNS Essential Serum (which also has antioxidants), and I bounce back and forth between each product.

Growth factors actually heal the skin, creating new proteins. Amazingly, topical growth factors can actually repair damaged skin, improving skin tone and texture, and minimizing fine lines. Medical grade products have to prove their claims with rigorous lab-based research (unlike over-the-counter brands which can make any claims they choose). And only medical grade products like Skin Medica and Obagi have the scientists and the labs capable of growing high-quality, potent, and highly concentrated growth factors, and so using a medical grade product is worth the money. It’s the concentration of growth factors that matter, and Skin Medica serums are at 93%!

I had the opportunity to meet some of the Skin Medica research scientists. Those guys are the real deal, and I sat through a scientific presentation about growth factors that was far outside my scope of understanding — but what I did get out of that experience is… the stuff works. Use it. You will love it.

(6) Physical Exercise:  I read Younger Next Year a few years ago, and a light bulb went off for me. I bought the book for all of my family members, and put several copies out in our office. The main idea of the book is that doing high intensity physical exercise every day “tricks” your body into thinking it is young. Regular, intensive exercise not only increases muscle mass and helps to prevent weight gain, but also improves the necessary neural coordination that keeps us walking, eating, and thriving. Thriving is the key word for me…exercise is the key to having a healthy, thriving body, and that overall good health radiates outward from your skin.

We are all busy people, and it is a challenge to make time for “high intensity physical exercise”. Remember — you don’t need a solid hour-long block to get in a workout- and that interval training does work. In that spirit, I’ve put together a few “in office” workout ideas and made a supremely silly video of me demo-ing my favorite quick workout ideas. My commitment to myself is to do something – even if it is just 20 minutes – to get my heart pumping every day. My skin will thank me!

(7) Chemical Peels and Microneedling: I am combining these into one category because I am planning to alternate these treatments monthly… but they are two distinctive and fantastic procedures to maintain your overall skin health. I am obsessed with chemical peels because they work to penetrate the dermis, deeply exfoliating your skin, and revealing tighter, fresher, smoother skin. Regular medical grade chemical peels (monthly or every other month) will keep acne at bay, clear up uneven skin tone, resolve hyperpigmentation, and tighten skin. With regular medical grade chemical peels (from Skin Medica, Obagi, and Vi) your skin will be tighter, have less visible pores, and be more even in tone. Personally, I’ve also cleared up some lingering hyperpigmentation caused by pregnancy hormones. It is such a satisfying feeling to know your skin is as healthy as it can be.

If you have read my blogs or watched my videos before you know I am obsessed with microneedling, in particular, the Plasma Facial. Microneedling uses a pen like device with tiny vibrating needles to penetrate the dermis. The needles create micro-injuries, that upon healing, create new collagen. Again, collagen is the key to youthful looking skin. Topical products – like medical serums, growth factors, or PRP are driven into your skin during the process, and assist in the healing process. I am a big fan of using your own PRP (Platelet Rich Plasma) to activate intensive skin healing from the inside out. PRP is your own body’s most healing agent. Whenever I get a Plasma Facial, my skin glows for about 6 weeks. Plasma facials and microneedling can also resolve small scars.

What I’ve discovered is that if you alternate the Plasma Facial (or Microneedling) with Medical Grade Chemical Peels, you get phenomenal results! I’ve been getting either a peel or a microneedling procedure every month (alternating between each one), and my skin has never looked better. I am building new collagen and encouraging healthy cell turnover in an intensive way. I am also resolving old acne scars. I am hoping that the combination of these two treatments will be my fountain of youth!

What is a fun luxury for when you have extra time or money: i.e. I love these things, I’ve tried them all, but they aren’t essential:

(1) Fancy Spa Facials: I love to go get a fancy spa facial. I’ve tried the 24K gold mask, the caviar, the rose petals, and on and on. These type of facials are fantastic for relaxation, and I love having someone massage my skin. But, they aren’t going to change, heal, or renew your skin. I love to get a facial when I am on vacation to relax, but at most, the facial simply temporarily hydrates my skin. If you want to relax, and really tackle some skin concerns, try our Ultrasonic Microdermabrasion, which is more gentle than standard your microdermabrasion, and is still relaxing but uses Ultrasound to deeply exfoliate the dermis and allow for the penetration of medical grade serums.

(2) Face masks: Oh man, do I love a face mask. I’ve spent more hours in the tub with a face mask on than is reasonable to admit. And I’ve tried them all  – from the super-pricey SK II mummy and La Mer masks, to rare earth blends, to my own homemade concoctions.  From my own personal experience, face masks are fun, but they aren’t doing much more than giving you a temporary moisture surge or dry up some acne. Some masks are so harsh that they can actually cause skin damage – like the sticky pull-off masks we all did as teens.

(3) Expensive Emollient Moisturizers: One of the most surprising things I’ve learned from being in the medical aesthetics industry is that if your skin is well exfoliated (by Retin-A, Clairsonic brushes, peels, etc.) you do NOT need a moisturizer. I found this very hard to believe. Everything I had ever learned was that you can go cheap on other products, but in order to really look youthful, you should save up and splurge on a luxury moisturizer. It took me time and trial and error to really start to believe the science that well-exfoliated healthy skin doesn’t need a pricey moisturizer. Now, we do live in Colorado, and it is very dry here. I do sometimes add in a moisturizing serum, like the Skin Medica Hydrating Serum or the Tri-Lipid enhancer made by our friend Dr. Asarch (which we also carry). But I don’t need the high-end moisturizer. I simply need healthy, exfoliated skin.

(4) Eyelash extensions:  THE PROS: Eyelash extensions are fun and results are immediate. THE CONS: Eyelash extensions are extremely pricey and time-consuming to get. I personally can hardly sit still long enough to have them put on. They don’t last very long, and they can damage your eyelashes.

Latisse on the other hand is easy, done at home, and very affordable. Plus, if you keep it up, results last indefinitely.

(5) Skin Vitamins: We’ve tried and tested all sort of skin vitamins – from formulations, to Vitamin-C, to Alpha Lipoic Acid, and more. As much as I love the idea of a pill that will enhance my skin health, there is no significant clinical evidence that supplements improve skin health. Try eating a healthy balanced diet and avoiding prolonged sun exposure instead.

(6) Expensive Face Washes: You just don’t need a fancy face wash. A basic gentle cleanser, such as the Sensitive Skin Cleanser from Skin Medica is good for almost all skin types. We often recommend basic Cetaphil (available at any grocery store) for our post-laser patients who just need something extremely gentle. If you want something more active, try something with glycolic for more exfoliation. We like the GlyPro line from Skin Medica or Sanitas’s Glycolic Citrus cleanser.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about my skin care tips!  If you have any questions or would like to try some of the products mentioned above, please call or visit our Broomfield, Colorado office to chat with our staff!

*Results may vary from patient to patient

By / January 19, 2015 / Skin Care Tips