Skin care with Retinol

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Where to even begin with retinol? I love it so much, and could talk about its many benefits till I’m blue! Yes, its hard to learn to use correctly within skin care, yes, it will make you feel like you have a 2nd degree burn for a month until your skin adjusts, and yes you will peel off facial skin into your food, but despite all this drama, it’s still the gold standard in aging well.

What does it do?  Simply put, retinol changes your skin on a cellular level. They stimulate and help increase collagen production (which we lose as we age), it smooths out fine lines, and heavy wrinkles, it evens out pigmentation and sun damage. It can even help chronic acne suffers find relief. Retinol packs a heavy punch and is a true skincare multitasker.

If you are past the age of 35, you need a retinol.  If you have sun damage, you need a retinol.  If you are breathing and reading this, you need a retinol.  You get where I’m going here. It’s never a bad thing to come to the retinol party late, but the earlier you start, the better off you will be in the long run. I find nothing wrong with a woman in her early 20s getting started on a retinol regimen. This, combined with a great sunscreen and limited sun exposure, will help ensure that she will not have massive issues with wrinkling and pigmentation 10 or 20 years down the road.

If I had to recommend one product that would affect BIG changes in a client’s skin, it would be a medical grade retinol cream. I know that the irritation can make people hesitant to use, but trust me, the end result is so worth every flake.

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Skin Hydration vs Skin Care Moisturizers

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For years as an esthetician, I touted the benefits of moisturizers till the cows came home.  When I started working with ZO Skin health, I was introduced to the skin care philosophy of the world renowned Dr. Zein Obagi. His philosophy is unique in that he does not recommend skin care moisturizers. What?!?!?!

This was the hardest pill for me to swallow, but once I understood his philosophy and approach, it made perfect sense. Skin care should be about hydrating from within, and most traditional moisturizers just sit on the surface of the skin. Yes, it may feel good at the moment, but what is it actually doing for the skin? A big fat nothing! Traditional moisturizers make the skin lazy, which is the exact opposite of what we want to accomplish.

For example, think about a baby. They have perfect plump and hydrated skin, nothing is required to achieve this.  This is the goal in skin heath: natural hydration from the inside out.

I usually recommend an approach of cleanse, exfoliate, tone and hydrate for my clients who are just starting out on their skin care journey. Please don’t get it twisted. A hydrator and a skin care moisturizer are not the same thing! A hydrator has beneficial elements that help your skin increase its own hydration, it doesn’t just sit on the surface and feel pretty. Another example would be Daily Power Defense. It’s a hydrator with a smidge of retinol for increased cellular turnover. This product strengthens the barrier of the skin for enhanced function, gives hydration, and prevents water loss.

A typical ZO skin health regimen that I may recommend would be as follows:

  • ZO skin health Gentle Cleanser
  • ZO exfoliating polish
  • ZO complexion and renewal pads
  • Zo daily power defense

By proper cleansing, exfoliating and toning, you can remove that top dry layer of skin.  Often, people think they have dry skin when the reality is that they just need regular exfoliation. They are often surprised at how quickly their skin starts to hydrate from within once they get on a regimen. 

AS Dr. Obagi is known for saying, “If you want to feel good, drink a martini, real skin health takes work!”